National Hispanic Heritage Month: Educating yourself on its importance

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Though National Hispanic Heritage Month may look different this year, there are many resources to use to learn about the important celebration. Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels.

Every year, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to honor the contributions of Hispanic/Latinx American citizens who trace their ancestry from the countries of Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, according to its official website. 

When it was originally established in 1968, the celebration lasted for only a week. Starting in 1988, it was extended to a month-long celebration of the Hispanic/Latinx community in the United States. The celebration begins on Sept. 15 because it marks the independence days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18 respectively. On Oct. 12, Columbus Day, or Día de la Raza, is celebrated. 

According to the United States Census Bureau, 60.6 million people, or 18.5% of the nation’s population, are of Hispanic/Latinx origin, making them the largest ethnic or racial minority in the country. As of 2019, there are 12 states with at least 1 million Hispanic/Latinx residents. 

As of Fall 2019, the University of Connecticut reported that 3,322, or about 7%, of its undergraduate students are Hispanic/Latinx. This year, UConn reported that Hispanic/Latinx students comprise 17.8% of the undergraduate class of 2024. 

The Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC) at UConn typically hosts events throughout the month to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, culminating in the “Illuminating the Path” event which hosts a renowned member of the Latinx community. In the past, some of the individuals PRLACC has brought to UConn include Rita Moreno, Rosario Dawson and Diego Luna. PRLACC did not respond to The Daily Campus for comment on plans for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, but stay tuned on their Instagram @UConnPRLACC or website for updates. 

Members of the PRLACC and LAU fraternity table on community healing through music on Fairfield Way, September 25th. Passerby were encouraged to stop by and write a song on a music note to be added to their billboard. Photo by Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus.

The official website for Hispanic Heritage Month is supported by The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

Throughout the month, some of these organizations have a few virtual events planned: On Sept. 16, the National Archives and Records Administration will host a virtual presentation discussing the history of World War II posters that specifically appealed to Latinx citizens and the people of Latin countries to help unite them against the Axis powers. On Sept. 30, the Library of Congress will host a virtual performance of Changüí Majadero, a California ensemble that plays Cuban folkloric music. For a full list of events, check out the official website at hispanicheritagemonth.gov

The official website also includes a myriad of art exhibits and collections, as well as audio and visual resources. The Smithsonian American Art Museum will feature a new exhibition called “¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now” beginning in late November. A gallery of the exhibition is currently available online for browsing. The audio and visual resources page on the Hispanic Heritage Month website offers links to video and audio on different subjects around Hispanic/Latinx individuals and countries, ranging from culture and folklife to history to music. 

Although the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month may look different this year, be sure to learn about its importance by browsing through many of the resources mentioned above. 

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