National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 - Oct. 15) gives Americans a chance to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Beginning in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, the celebration was extended to cover a 30-day period in 1988, the same year it was enacted into law.
September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for these Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Also, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively.
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1987 by the White House to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. The leadership organization leverages established programs, effective platforms, and influential relationships to meet America’s priorities in the community, education, and the workforce. Through public awareness campaigns and events, the foundation also celebrates Hispanic cultural pride and honors youth who demonstrate leadership potential.
The foundation’s Hispanic Heritage Awards honor the contributions of Latinos and Latinas in the fields of art, education, leadership, literature, math/science, and sports, as well as Vision and Lifetime Achievement Awards
Here are some facts and figures about the Hispanic population in the United States from the U.S. Census Bureau:
- 48.4 million: The estimated Hispanic population of the U.S. as of July 1, 2009, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 16% of the nation's total population. In addition, there are approximately 4 million residents of Puerto Rico, a Caribbean U.S. territory.
- 47%: The percentage of the Hispanic-origin population that lived in California or Texas in 2009. California was home to 13.7 million Hispanics, while Texas was home to 9.1 million.
- 10.5 million: The number of Hispanic family households in the United States in 2009.
- 1.1 million: The number of Hispanics or Latinos who are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Author: Darice Britt