Each year, from September 15 to October 15, our nation pays tribute to Hispanic Americans who have had a positive influence and enriched our nation and society. These dates were chosen to commemorate two historic events:

1) The formal signing of the Act of Independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua on September 15, 1821.  

2) Mexico’s Independence Day which  marked the beginning of the struggle against Spanish Control on September 16, 1810. 

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson officially acknowledged September 15th as a day of celebration, and the event spread to a month-long event in 1988 to include El Dia de la Raza on October 12. This day commemorates the influence of those who came after Christopher Columbus and the expansion of Hispanic culture that followed. 

Some important settlements founded by Spanish explorers include, San Miguel de Gualdape. It was the first European settlement in North America, founded in Georgia in 1526; 81 years before Jamestown. St. Augustine, Florida was founded in 1565 and is the oldest city in the United States (US). Hispanic Americans have been contributing to life in the US ever since.

Additional dates of importance during Hispanic Heritage Month are September 18th (El Dieciocho), Chile’s Independence Day, and September 21st, Belize’s Independence Day. 

During Hispanic Heritage month, many festivals are held across major cities nationwide. For example, New York recognizes the event with an annual Hispanic Day Parade.  Many states such as California, Louisiana and Florida host events, which include concerts, sporting events, competitions and food vendors. In Washington, D.C., various museums have displays focused on Hispanic culture. Some examples include a display of Mayan culture at the American Indian Museum and a celebration of Latina women at the National Museum of American History

The Hispanic community consists of people who identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican- American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban or other Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin. There are 55 million Hispanics in the US and this demographic group makes up 17 percent of the American population. By 2060, it is estimated there will be 119 million Hispanics and they will make up the second to largest racial/ethnic group in  the US. The top five states of residence for Hispanic populations include California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas.  

Our nation celebrates contributions from the Hispanic community during this month and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans. Hispanics have had a positive influence on our country through their commitment to family, faith, hard work and service. They enhance our national character with traditions reflecting multi-ethnic and multicultural customs from their Hispanic communities. 

About the Author

Jennifer Manning, DNS, APRN, CNS, CNE

Dr. Manning graduated from LSUHSC School of Nursing with her BSN in 2000. She worked as a staff nurse in the ICU for 8 years before taking a full time position as a nursing faculty at LSUHSC School of Nursing. She completed her Masters in nursing in late 2007 and successfully passed her Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist Board Exam in early 2008. In 2014, Dr. Manning obtained her certification as a nurse educator. In 2014, she graduated from the Doctor of Nursing Science Program at LSUHSC School of Nursing.

She served as president of the Epsilon Nu chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor society from 2013-2015. She served as a director of the articulation program at LSUHSC School of Nursing from 2012-2015 and is currently the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Nursing Programs. Her research interests include critical care nursing, nursing leadership, undergraduate nursing education, and gerontology.

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