By CBSMiami.com Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s September 15 and that means today is the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the passion, culture and history created by members of the Hispanic and Latino community.

The term Hispanic or Latino (or the more recent term Latinx) refers to a person’s culture or origin—regardless of race.

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On the 2020 Census form, people were counted as Hispanic or Latino or Spanish if they could identify as having Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.”

Hispanic Heritage Month actually began as a commemorative week when it was first introduced in June of 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown.

From 1968 until 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan all issued yearly proclamations, setting aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans.

In 1987 U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres (D-California) introduced legislation to expand Hispanic Heritage Week into a full month. Torres, a proud Mexican American, wanted more time so that the nation could “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement.”

President George H.W. Bush was the first president to declare the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

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Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 – October 15 during which several Latin American countries celebrate their independence.

September 15 coincides with national independence days for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.  Those five nations declared their independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also celebrate their respective independence days in that same time frame.

Latinxs have contributed to every facet of American society and have helped define American culture including food, music, business, sports, art, politics, literature, entertainment, and science.

Latinxs are the country’s second-largest racial or ethnic group, behind white non-Hispanics according to the latest 2020 census.

Latinxs now account for 18.7 percent of the U.S. population up 2.4 percent in the previous decade with 62.1 million Latinxs living across America with the biggest concentrations in New York, California, Texas, and Florida.

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Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated across the nation with events in schools, companies, neighborhoods, and the National Park Service. There are often parades, festivals, concerts, lectures, or community events, many of them virtual that teach people about outstanding Latinx and their contribution because the beauty and strength of America lie in its diversity.

CBSMiami.com Team