History of National Hispanic Heritage Month
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens 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 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Dia de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.
Some Celebrated Hispanic Americans
Sonia Sotomayor was born in the Bronx on Jun 25, 1954. Her parents were born in Puerto Rico. She made history by becoming the first woman of color, first Hispanic, and first Latina member of the Supreme Court when she was nominated by President Barack Obama on May 26, 2009. She has served as an Associate Justice since Aug 8, 2009.
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Cesar Chavez was born near Yuma, Arizona in 1927 to a Mexican American family. After spending two years in the Navy, he became a highly influential and important civil rights activist and labor leader. Along with his colleague Dolores Huerta, he founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later merged with the Agricultural Farm Workers Organizing Committee to become the United Farm Workers labor union. Through organizing actions such as a 1965 strike against grape growers in Delano, California which led to boycotts, marches, and widespread attention, he helped to effect substantial improvements in the working conditions of farm laborers. He died April 23, 1993 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.
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Cesar Chavez/ Lionsgate, Pantelion, Televisa Cine and Canana present; a Canana production: producers Diego Luna, Lawrence Meli, Keir Pearson; produced by Pablo Cruz; story by Keir Pearson; screenplay by Keir Pearson and Timothy J. Sexton; directed by Diego Luna
Rita Moreno was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico in 1931 and came to the United States at the age of five, growing up in New York City. A celebrated actress, dancer, and singer, she is the first Hispanic entertainer to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Her career in film, television, and theater includes the role of Anita in West Side Story (1961) for which she won the Oscar, the role of Googie Gomez in the stage production of The Ritz (1975), and her recent appearance in the Netflix TV series One Day at a Time. At the age of 89 she continues to work steadily and will appear in the upcoming movie version of West Side Story (2021), which she also executive produced. She is the subject of the documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It.
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Roberto Clemente was born August 18, 1934 in Carolina, Puerto Rico. He grew up playing baseball and later became a noted professional player, winning several awards including the World Series MVP award in 1971, becoming the first player from the Caribbean and Latin America to win it. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Clemente participated in charity work in Latin America and the Caribbean and was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1972 while traveling to help people affected by and earthquake in Nicaragua. He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming both the first Caribbean and the first Latin American player to receive the honor.
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Lin-Manuel Miranda was born January 16, 1980 in New York City and is of Puerto-Rican descent. He is an acclaimed composer, lyricist, actor, playwright, and producer, best-known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In the Heights. He has been the recipient of numerous honors for his work including the Pulitzer, as well as multiple Grammy, Emmy, and Tony awards. Following Hurricane Maria in 2017 he became actively involved with relief efforts in Puerto Pico.
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