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Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month is dedicated to recognizing and marking the rich and colorful cultural heritage of the Hispanic and Latino people. Originally, Hispanic Heritage Month was Hispanic Heritage Week started in 1968 under President Johnson. In 1988, President Reagan enacted a public law to celebrate a 30-day Hispanic Heritage Month, starting on September 15 to coincide with the independence days of five Central American countries. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on September 15th, Mexico on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. They also include holidays that recognize Hispanic contributions such as the Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day which is celebrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Hispanic and Latino are the two most used terms to describe Americans with Latin American and Caribbean ancestry. These terms can be seen to be used interchangeably. The National Museum of the American Latino uses the term “Latino” to describe the diverse residents of the United States with cultural or ancestral ties to Latin America or the Caribbean.

It is important to note that the term Hispanic is not a monolith. People in the community may have different ways of identifying themselves e.g. Latino, Latinx or Afro Latina. This displays the very rich and diverse cultures represented.

The contributions of Hispanic-American individuals in various fields, such as business, arts, sciences, politics, and sports, has been interlaced into the vast multiculturalism of American society. These  achievements have shown invaluable contributions of the Hiapanic community. Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a platform to preserve and promote awareness, appreciation of Spanish or Latin American heritage. Latinos account for the fastest-growing portion of the national GDP. In 2010 the Latino GDP was estimated at $1.7 trillion, by 2020 that had increased to $2.8 trillion. This is contrary to the fact that Latinos still face financial challenges. Surveys show median wealth is five times lower for Latino families and ess than half of Hispanic families own their own homes.

There have been remarkable achievements made by the Hispanic-Americans with their contributions in a number of fields, leaving  a lasting impact on society. These individuals have helped shape the cultural landscape of America from authors, politicians and activists to actors and musicians. Some notable Hispanic-American figures include civil rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta whose tireless efforts advanced the rights of farm workers; Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who made history as the first Latina to serve on the highest court in the land; and acclaimed author Sandra Cisneros, whose prolific writing gave  Latina women a voice. 

This influence dates back centuries from the early Hispanic settlers who established trade and commerce in the Southwest to the present-day entrepreneurs making their mark in various industries. Hispanic-owned businesses have been instrumental in shaping local economies, fostering innovation, and promoting cultural diversity.  There are nearly 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses across the U.S. that generate more than $800 billion for the economy annually. Nearly one in four new businesses is Hispanic-owned, and those businesses are making huge impacts in their communities and beyond. 

These individuals and many others have not only created and paved the way for future generations, they have played a crucial role in uplifting the Hispanic-American community.While we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month it’s important to celebrate Hispanic-and-Latino-owned businesses year round. With so many historical nuances we can see the importance of celebrating this community and its greatness.

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