Why celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

Sep 30, 2019

The purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15–October 15) is to recognize the contributions and vital presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States. President Lyndon Johnson first approved Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and it was expanded to a full month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

Why does Hispanic Heritage Month run from mid-September to mid-October? The date was chosen to bookend two milestones for Spanish speaking countries: the celebration of independence from Spain for Mexico, Chile, and, five Central American nations (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica) and Columbus Day / Día de la Raza. This day is mostly celebrated by the Italian Americans rather than Spanish-speaking immigrants.

In the fabric of our society, the impact of Hispanics is undeniable. It is important for the new generations that our contributions in forging this great nation are valued beyond food and music. From astronauts to physicists, Hispanics have contributed to better our lives. A few examples:

  • Luis Walter Alvarez was an American experimental physicist, inventor, and professor who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968.
  • Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz is a Costa Rican American mechanical engineer, physicist, former NASA astronaut.
  • Ellen O. Ochoa is a Hispanic-American engineer, former astronaut and former Director of the Johnson Space Center.

UC ANR joins in the celebration of Hispanic heritage by profiling four Latino academics, advisors, educators who serve their communities, day after day, applying the UC ANR public values:


By Ricardo A. Vela
Author - Program Manager