Release Date: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic heritage month graphic

This message is one of many related to our diverse community’s numerous unique holidays, including cultural, historic, and religious observances throughout the year. I am likely to write about the holidays or cultural observances that mean the most to you as they occur throughout the year. Please let me know if you want to learn my plans about a holiday that is specifically important to you.

From September 15 through October 15, we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which recognizes the contributions of the more than 60 million Americans of Hispanic heritage.

What is National Hispanic Heritage Month?

This month is a celebration of the heritage, histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans, immigrants, and visitors whose ancestors came from parts of Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. This includes me, as my father was born in Brazil.

National Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson. It was expanded in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan to cover a full month.

Brief history of Hispanic heritage in the U.S.

September 15 was chosen to begin the month because it is the anniversary of independence for the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18) celebrate their independence days near the same time. Also, Indigenous People’s Day or Columbus Day – sometimes called Día de la Raza in Latin American countries – takes place during the same month.

I wrote in detail about this history, as well as the meaning of the terms Hispanic and Latino, last year. I encourage you to read that message.

If you wish to study the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, Henry Ford College offers three options for you. The Henry Ford College Latino and Hispanic Student Association is also available for students.

Celebrations and observances

Normally, communities and organizations host festivals, art shows, concerts, conferences, community gatherings, and many other celebrations of Hispanic heritage. The pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives this year, and the public celebrations of our heritage months and cultural events have been greatly reduced. This is unfortunate, especially at a time when we need to be able to gather and celebrate the unity that can grow within our richly diverse society.

The past year has been punctuated by differences, divisions, and even conflicts within our nation. This month’s celebration of Hispanic heritage gives our College community an opportunity to represent the positive, affirmative, and learning elements of human difference. We can embrace the wealth of different experiences, perspectives, and traditions that are meaningful to our Hispanic colleagues and students, and allow them to enrich our understanding and acceptance of other cultures. This will make our College even more welcoming and inclusive toward our growing population of students of Hispanic heritage. If there are Hispanic Heritage Month events or celebrations near you, I encourage you to participate safely.

To all HFC students, faculty, staff, and visitors of Hispanic heritage: Bienvenidos al Colegio Henry Ford! Me alegra que estén aquí. (Welcome to Henry Ford College. I am glad you are here!)

Russ Kavalhuna