September 15 marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month and it extends to October 15. Hispanic Heritage Month is a month dedicated to honoring the cultures, collective actions, and contributions of people of Latinx descent. People probably have started to see a lot of flags from all sorts of different Latin countries everywhere. Here in Chicago, one-third of the population is of Latinx descent so it is heavily celebrated and recognized. Some of the biggest Latinx neighborhoods here in Chicago are Little Village, Pilsen, and Humboldt Park.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual event that first started back in 1968. It first began as a single commemorative week that was introduced in June of 1968 by Congressman George E. Brown from California. He pushed the U.S to recognize the contributions of the Latinx community. Since this was a time during the civil rights movement it gained a lot of momentum and on September 17 Congress passed Public Law 90-48.
Public Law 90-48 authorized and requested that presidents will issue annual proclamations declaring September 15th and 16th to be known as the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week presidential proclamation that day.
In 1987, California Representative Esteban E. Torres proposed to extend Hispanic Heritage Week to a month. He claimed that the nation needs more time to properly observe and coordinate events to celebrate Hispanic culture. One year later, Illinois Senator Paul Simon submitted a similar bill to Congress and it was successfully passed and signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan on August 17.
Then on September 14, 1989, former President George H.W. Bush declared that September 15th to October 15th should be recognized as National Hispanic Heritage Month. Since 1968 every president has made a National Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation.
September 15 is the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month because that date is very significant. The 15th is the independence day anniversary for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua which are all Latin American countries. September 16 marks the independence day anniversary for Chile and Mexico. October 12 is known as Columbus Day or “Día De La Raza” which also falls in between the 31-day period.
Little Village, one of Chicago’s biggest Latinx neighborhoods, has the tradition to throw a Mexican Independence Day parade. For the past two years it has been canceled but this year it was back. This marked its 51-year anniversary and it took place on September 11 at 12 p.m. It started on 26th Street and Albany Avenue and went down 26th Street until Kostner Ave. The parade included brightly colored floats, mariachi bands, folkloric dancing, and many more. The parade is a huge deal and is considered one of the largest parades in the Midwest and had an attendance of over 200,000 people.
Humboldt Park, another one of Chicago’s biggest Latinx neighborhoods, also has an annual Puerto Rican Festival that will take place on September 24th and 25th. This will be the 40th anniversary and will promote the culture, values, and art of the Puerto Rican community through a celebration of customs and honoring ancestors, elders, and traditions. Chicago as a city has numerous events to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month but these are a couple. They regularly have dinners, festivals, dances, fiestas, and much more all throughout the city.
There are many ways that you can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month here in Chicago. Hispanic Heritage Month is meant for you to learn more about the culture of Latinx descent people that include their traditions, foods, and history. So, one great thing to do is explore various Latinx neighborhoods like Little Village Pilsen, and Humboldt Park. In these neighborhoods, people can try various different authentic cuisine. They can also acknowledge the various public art.
Neighborhoods like Pilsen and Humboldt park are very recognized for their murals that really tell a story on their own. Chicago also has Latinx cultural heritage and art museums which are great to learn more about how Latinx people expressed themselves with their art. National Hispanic Heritage Month is starting in a couple of days so it would be best to start planning out one’s ways of celebrating this great month.
Written by Gabriel Salgado
Edited Sheena Robertson
CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM: Family Event | Latinx Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month: About National Hispanic Heritage Month
History: Hispanic Heritage Month
The DePaulia: Flag waving: Latinos in Chicago continue the tradition to celebrate Independence day and Hispanic Heritage month
Little Village Chamber of Commerce: 26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade
Choose Chicago: Explore Latino heritage in Chicago’s neighborhoods
Puerto Rican Festival: 40TH ANNIVERSARY PUERTO RICAN FESTIVAL
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Inset Image Courtesy of Aberdeen Proving Ground Flickr Page – Creative Commons License