In June of 1968, as awareness of the United States multicultural identity continued to grow, California Congressman George E. Brown introduced legislation to commemorate the contributions to our country—both past and present—by Hispanic/Latinx communities. On September 17 of that same year, Congress passed Public Law 90-48, which officially authorized President Johnson and his successors to issue yearly proclamations declaring September 15 and 16 the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week, and requested that they do so annually. President Johnson issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week proclamation on the same day.
The week-long celebration was expanded to a full month in 1988 when Congress enacted into law what we now know as Hispanic Heritage Month, which spans from September 15 to October 15. The month is designed to celebrate the culture, achievements, and contributions of American citizens with Hispanic/Latinx roots. September 15 was chosen as the start date because it is the independence day of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. All five countries won liberation in 1812. Three more countries follow Mexico celebrate its independence on September 16, followed by Chile on September 18, and Belize on September 21.
Hispanic vs Latinx
The term Hispanic was created by the US federal government in the 1970s to classify Americans who are a part of the Spanish diaspora. It is important to note that not all Hispanics speak Spanish. The recent non-gendered term Latinx is derived from 1970’s term Latino/Latina created to recognize the diverse heritage of Latin American people and minimize focus on the colonial relationship with Spain. Latinx more broadly refers to people who are from all of the Americas including North American, Central American, South American, and the Caribbean. Importantly, this includes countries like Guyana and Brazil, where Spanish is not the official language. This video offers insight into the evolution of language that led to the term “Latinx."
Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month at SSFS
In the first of many heritage month celebrations, Sandy Spring Friends School seeks to recognize the many contributions of the Latinx Community both at SSFS and in the world. Our community benefits from the myriad contributions of adults and students of Hispanic or Latinx descent. Our teachers and learners have explored Hispanic and Latinx culture through our academic work with the Global Languages department, service trips, and Intersession programming. Please read The Pulse and other school communications for more information and resources from the Office of Institutional Equity, Justice, and Belonging throughout the month and during the rest of the school year!