It’s time to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, starting Wednesday, September 15 and spotlighting the history, culture, and achievements of Americans of Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, and Central and South American heritage.

This year’s theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” In a year where hope has been in short supply, we are urged to reflect on a brighter future made possible by resilience and hope. Festivities will highlight the many ways that Hispanic individuals have contributed to America in music, art, science, sports, education, the military, government, labor, journalism, and thought leadership.

First celebrated as “Hispanic Heritage Week” in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, the celebration was expanded to a month under President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The start and end dates bracket significant milestones in the fight for independence in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, and Mexico.

In the 2019 US Census, over 60 million Americans identified as Hispanic or Latino, making this our largest ethnic minority. While some people use the terms Latino/Latina and Hispanic interchangeably, they differ in terms of inclusion. People descended from Spanish-speaking countries are considered Hispanic, while those descended from Latin American countries are considered Latino/Latina. Someone can be both Hispanic and Latino, but language is the difference-maker. Someone from Brazil–where Portuguese is spoken – would be Latino/Latina but not Hispanic. Persons of Spanish descent are considered Hispanic, but not Latino/Latina.

So, celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with your family and friends. Visit one of our local libraries and check out some Hispanic authors. Wear your national colors. Tell your children about their heritage. Enjoy some ethnic cuisine. Dance to ethnic music. Learn some Spanish phrases. Watch a Hispanic-themed movie. Make some festive crafts. Support a Hispanic-owned local business. With a full month, you can celebrate differently every day! Esperanza!