September 15, 2023
National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of celebration and recognition, honoring the rich history and vibrant contributions of Hispanic individuals and communities. This annual observance, which takes place from September 15th to October 15th, has a deep-rooted history that dates back to the early 1960s. The origins of Hispanic Heritage Month can be traced back to the tireless efforts of various community leaders and organizations who advocated for increased visibility and acknowledgment of Hispanic achievements.
It was officially established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 as a week-long celebration, known as National Hispanic Heritage Week. Over time, this week-long tribute evolved into a month-long commemoration to provide ample opportunity for recognizing and honoring the cultural diversity that exists within the Hispanic community. The significance of this month extends far beyond mere festivities; it serves as an important platform to educate others about the countless contributions Hispanics have made throughout history.
Hispanic Heritage Month not only celebrates the accomplishments of prominent figures such as artists, activists, scientists, writers, and leaders but also highlights everyday heroes whose stories often go untold. It is a time when we come together to acknowledge their invaluable contributions in shaping our society.
- One of the most influential Hispanics in history is undoubtedly Simón Bolívar. Known as "El Libertador," Bolívar played a pivotal role in liberating several South American countries from Spanish colonial rule. His vision of a united Latin America inspired countless others to fight for independence and laid the foundation for modern-day nations such as Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama.
- Another trailblazer who left an indelible mark on history is Frida Kahlo. Through her powerful self-portraits and artistic expression, Kahlo became an icon not only for her talent but also for her unapologetic celebration of Mexican culture and identity. Her art continues to resonate with audiences worldwide, challenging societal norms and embracing individuality.
- In the realm of literature, Gabriel García Márquez stands out as one of the most influential Hispanic writers of all time. His masterpiece "One Hundred Years of Solitude" captivated readers with its magical realism and lyrical prose. Through his storytelling prowess, García Márquez brought Latin American literature to global prominence, earning him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.
These are just a few examples among countless others who have left an indelible mark on history through their contributions in various fields such as politics, arts, sciences, sports, and more. The influence of Hispanics throughout history serves as a testament to their resilience, creativity, and unwavering spirit that continues to inspire generations to come.
There is no better time to explore Hispanic culture by indulging your taste buds in a culinary adventure filled with traditional dishes like empanadas, tacos, paella, and so much more. Immerse yourself in the rhythm and passion of Hispanic dance by attending captivating performances; from salsa to flamenco, these dance forms embody the energy and spirit of Latin America.
If you’re reading this saying to yourself “I part take in Hispanic heritage by eating at my favorite taco place once a month”, I say to you that sounds awesome! However, exploring is all about trying something new, and I would encourage you to think of a new experience this month that expands your knowledge of Hispanic/Latin culture. A personal suggestion, take a Latin dance class! Salsa, Bachata, and merengue not only get your rhythm right, but each dance steps to a different style of music that speaks to the rhythm of the country it originated from. I can say from personal experience, that once you’re on the dance floor, you experience Hispanic/Latin culture in a very visceral way. If dance isn’t your thing, consider watching a Latin show that may interest you (with subtitles of course). Simply watching a show helps you to get an expression of Latin culture that may not be familiar to you. My personal favorites - “La Casa de Papel” (Money Heist), and “Acapulco”.
National Hispanic Heritage Month holds great historical importance in recognizing the achievements of Hispanics while celebrating their cultural diversity. Let us embrace this month with open hearts and minds, as we continue to learn from and appreciate the countless contributions of the Hispanic community.