National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month from September 15-October 15 honors both Hispanic and Latino Americans as we celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.
The day of September 15 is significant because it marks the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their Independence Days on September 16 and September 18, respectively, and Día de la Raza falls on October 12.
Dia de la Raza “Day of the Race” celebrates and honors the many countries that were conquered by Spanish and European explorers, and the mixed-race peoples. It is a day of recognition and honor to the people, traditions, and cultures that were destroyed by European colonization.
Ways to Celebrate in Boston
Boston Public Library’s Vida Latina – a comprehensive list of recommended readings and events hosted at library branches
Cinefest Latino Boston – an annual film fest committed to using the power of film to break stereotypes, bring cultures and communities together and reveal the complex issues affecting the Latinx community in the United States
Fiesta en la Plaza – community events and celebrations taking place all month at Boston’s City Hall Plaza
Latinx Heritage Night – hosted at the MFA Boston on September 21 from 5-10pm
Important Women and Non-Binary People, Past and Present, in the Latinx Community
Celia Cruz – one of the most iconic singers and performers of salsa music, known as “la Reina de la Salsa” (the Queen of Salsa).
Dr. Ellen Ochoa – an American engineer, astronaut and former director of the Johnson Space Center. In 1993, Ochoa became the first Latina woman to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Gloria Estefan – a Cuban-American singer, actress and businesswoman credited with breaking down barriers and opening doors for fellow Latin musicians.
Joan Baez – an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist. Her folk music often includes songs of protest and social justice.
Laurie Hernandez – became the second U.S.-born Latina to be on the U.S. Women’s Olympics gymnastics team and went on to win gold and silver medals in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Sara Ramírez – an actor, singer and LGBTQ+ activist. They rose to fame on Grey’s Anatomy and currently cast on Sex and the City’s revival series, And Just Like That.
Sonia Sotomayor – an American lawyer and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009 as the first woman of color, the first Hispanic, and first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court.
Sylvia Rivera – an American gay liberation and transgender rights activist, participating in demonstrations with the Gay Liberation Front.