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Hispanic Heritage: Home

About Hispanic American Heritage Month

In 1968, Congressman George E. Brown of California introduced the idea of a Hispanic Heritage week.  The civil rights movement of the 1960s gave Americans a lot to consider in regard to race, ethnicities, gender and sexuality, poverty, and pervasive, systemic issues within the country.  The Chicano movement made Americans realize the importance of the Hispanic populations' contributions to American life, and also brought real, genuine existence to the culture to the eyes of their countrymen, on a large scale.

in September of 1968, Congress passed a law authorizing and requesting that the sitting President issue an annual proclamation designating the week of September 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Week.  Twenty years later, Congress amended the law to dedicate an entire month to Hispanic Heritage; President George H.W. Bush issued the first month-wide proclamation in 1989.  

Now, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in America every year from September 15 to October 15.  The dates' significance is that of the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica (September 15), and the independence days of Mexico (16) and Chile (18).  The month is spent observing and celebrating the cultures, histories, and contributions of Hispanic Americans (The history of Hispanic heritage month, 2020).


Images from the Indiana Historical Society

Language Usage

This research guide will use the term "Hispanic" throughout, with the reason being that this is the official name of the cultural heritage month used by the United States Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of State, the National Parks Service, the National Museum of the American Latinothe National Archives, and the United States Presidential Proclamations for the celebration each year.  That being said, the UC Libraries acknowledge that many people may not identify with the term "Hispanic," and that there are times when other terminology is more appropriate.  Language is always evolving, and being conscious of how others self-identify is an important part of the human condition.

Image from: VivaLatinAmerica Tumblr

Who is Hispanic? - Pew Research Center

Here are a few helpful definitions:

  • Hispanic - refers to a person who is from, or a descendant of someone who is from, a Spanish-speaking country
  • Latino/a/x - a person of Latin American origin or descent.  In the Spanish language, it is typical that words and phrases that end in "o" are masculine and "a" are feminine; "Latinx" is the gender neutral version of the term.  "Latino/a/x" includes people from Brazil, but not those from Spain.  Though a person from or a descendant of someone who is from Spain would more often refer to themselves as "Spanish" or a "Spaniard."
  • Chicano/a/x - an American of Mexican origin or descent.  The same a/o/x rule as Latino/a/x applies here: use "o" for masculine, "a" for feminine, and "x" for gender neutral/nonbinary individuals.  The term "Chicano/a/x" became popular during the Chicano Movement/El Movimiento.  Mexican Americans used/use the term to express pride in a shared community, cultural, and ethnic identity.
  • First Generation - designates the first of a generation/family to become a citizen in a new country.  "Child of immigrants" may also be an appropriate way to refer to individuals of this group.

What's wrong with the "x?"

  • The "x" in "Latinx," and "Chicanx," is often used to be gender neutral/nonbinary.  Though using "x" to represent the absence or inclusivity of multiple genders is not a new thing, it has gained much popularity in the last 30 years as the LGBTQIA+ community begins to have a louder voice in the mainstream world.  Words like "Mx.," "folx," and "womxn" are gender inclusive and can either comment on an individual's absence of gender, fluidity, or the existence of multiple genders.
  • The use of the term "Latinx" is not very popular with the Spanish-speaking community (Noe-Bustamante et al., 2020).  The term was created, and is used more often, by American-born Latino/a/x with the goal to be more inclusive and gender neutral with their language - which is a more sought-out intention in the English language rather than Spanish.  Arguments against the term have used the phrase "linguistic imperialism," claiming that the word "attempt[s] to force American ideals onto people living in Latin America" (Ramirez et al., 2016).
  • The word "Latine" is more often used than "Latinx" by Spanish-speaking individuals.  Latine is a gender neutral term created by the LGBTQIA+, gender nonbinary, and feminist communities in Spanish-speaking countries.  Latine removes the gendered "o" or "a" from the word Latino/a and replaces it with the letter "e" - which is a gender-neutral letter in Spanish.

Hispanic and Latino/a/x communities possess a great deal of intersectionality - meaning that what may seem to be an individual's dominant language, race, or ethnicity may not be.  When having trouble figuring out how to refer to or address someone, just try using their name!  And if you feel comfortable asking, make sure to do so in a respectful manner.

Chart from Pew Research Center

Image from: Pew Research Center

Important Dates


Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities: was established in 1986 and "...represents more than 500 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and U.S. school districts. Although our member institutions in the U.S. represent only 17% of all higher education institutions nationwide, together they are home to two-thirds of all Hispanic college students. HACU is the only national educational association that represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs)."

Puerto Rican Studies

Latino Studies

Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Cuban Studies

Citations and Image Credits

Ballet folklorico couple [Photograph]. (1960). Indiana Historical Society.

Consuelo "Connie" Figueroa with friend [Photograph]. (1940). Indiana Historical Society.

Four children in garden [Photograph]. (1959). Indiana Historical Society.

Hispanic & Latinx by the numbers [Image]. (n.d.). National Institutes of Health, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

The history of Hispanic heritage month. (2020, October 13). Cisneros Hispanic Leadership, Institute Columbian College of Arts & Sciences.

Krogstad, J. M., Passel, J. S., & Noe-Bustamante, L. (2022, September 23). Key facts about U.S. Latinos for national Hispanic heritage month. Pew Research Center.

Noe-Bustamante, L., Mora, L., & Lopez, M. H. (2020, August 11). About one-in-four U.S. Hispanics have heard of Latinx, but just 3% use it. Pew Research Center.

Ramirez, L. L., & Blay, Z. (2016, June 5). Why people are using the term 'Latinx'. Huff Post.

Three men with cherry buckets [Photograph]. (1954). Indiana Historical Society.

[Venn diagram of the differences and intersections of Latino and Hispanic countries]. (n.d.). Viva Latin America Tumblr.

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