1. September 15 to October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month.
2. Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the celebrations of Independence Dayin many Latin American countries—including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (September 15), Mexico (September 16), and Chile (September 18).
3. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hispanics make up 16.3% of the national population, or 48.4 million. In Los Angeles County, this number jumps to 47.7%. The highest concentration of Hispanics is in California and Texas.
4. In the interest of being politically correct, many cities, especially in California, have renamed it “Latino Heritage Month.” Debate has centered over which term is more politically correct.
5. The celebration was first authorized in 1968, when President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating “National Hispanic Heritage Week.”
6. President Ronald Reagan expanded on President Johnson’s proclamation by enacting “Hispanic Heritage Month” into public law in 1988.
7 Some “Famous Firsts” include Antonia Coello Novello, who was both the first Hispanic and the first woman U.S. Attorney General (1990-1993); Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice (2009); and the first Hispanic 4-star general, Richard E Cavazos (1976).
8 Many states offer special events for Hispanic Heritage all month long. These are wonderful – and often free! – learning opportunities for both educators and students . Check your state or local county’s website to see if any events are going on near you.
9. While official use of the term “Hispanic” dates back to the 1970 U.S. census, the term “Latino” was officially adopted in 1997. In the United States, “Latinos” or “Hispanics” are defined as “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.”
10. Hispanic Heritage Month provides a great opportunity to teach students about other cultures. There are many online resources with ideas on integrating it into your lesson-planning. Other useful sites include Florida DOE’s list of recommended books, helpfully divided by grade level; the Library of Congress’Hispanic Reading Room for great photographs and video footage; and for the more adventurous, field trip possibilities abound with the National Park Service’s list of historic properties significant to Hispanics.