Hispanic Heritage Month
By Adrianna Montes and Milan Riley
The annual National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States began this year on Thursday, September 15, and ended on Saturday, October 15. It celebrates the history, culture, and contributions of American citizens descended from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
This observance originated in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. It was later expanded into the month we know now in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan. The event was officially enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402. The date of September 15 holds special significance as it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. About 60 million, or about 18%, of the population of the United States is Hispanic or Latino.
In commemoration and appreciation of those of Hispanic heritage, here are some inspiring stars of Latino and Latina descent:
Cesar Chavez (1927-1993): Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American labor leader and civil rights activist. He was dedicated to improving the working and living conditions of farm workers through organizing and negotiating contracts with their employers. He is responsible for enacting the first Bill of Rights for agricultural workers.
Shakira: Shakira, also referred to as “The Queen of Latin Music,” is a Colombian singer. She is 45 years old and credited with spreading Latin music to the world and contributing to the gaining popularity of the genre. She also supports UNICEF and helps raise awareness for the world’s most vulnerable children. Some of her famous songs include:
- “Hips Don’t Lie”
- “Waka Waka”
- “Whenever, Wherever”
Fernando Alonso: Fernando Alonso is a 41 year old Spanish Formula 1 driver who retired in 2013 and returned to the sport in 2021. He has won the Driver’s Championship twice and ninth in the Driver’s Championship while on team Alpine.
Sergio Perez: Sergio Perez, also known as Checo Perez, is the first Mexican Formula 1 driver in 30 years. Checo is short for Sergio in the Spanish dialect spoken in Mexico. He drives for Red Bull Racing, the current Constructors Champion. Perez is in third place in the Driver’s Championship.
Lionel Messi: Lionel Messi is an Argentinian soccer player and captain of his team in Ligue 1. He plays for Paris Saint-Germain and is considered one of the best soccer players. He is also involved in charitable efforts aimed at helping vulnerable children through UNICEF.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese soccer player who plays forward in Manchester United and is captain of Portugal’s soccer team. He encourages determination and perseverance, which is connected to his childhood since he didn’t grow up with many resources or privileges. Ronaldo models and is an advocate of various causes from AIDS / HIV to slavery and human trafficking.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: Lin-Manuel Miranda is an actor, composer, lyricist and writer with Puerto Rican heritage. He is most known for the Broadway plays, Hamilton and In the Heights. His productions blended modern musical forms with classic musical theater. Miranda includes much diversity in his plays and so he provided an opportunity for people of color to retell the life story of a Founding Father.
Selena Quintinilla: Selena Quintanilla, also known as the “Queen of Tejano Music,” was a Mexican-American singer and songwriter born in 1981. Sadly, she was killed in 1995. There are movies, shows, and books based on her life and some on how she grew up. Here are some of her most popular songs:
- “Como la Flor”
- “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”
- “I Could Fall in Love”
- “Dreaming of You”
Rigoberta Menchu: Rigoberta Menchu is a Guatemala Nobel Prize winner. She won the Nobel Prize in 1992 for advocating Indian rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation, not only in Guatemala but in the Western Hemisphere generally. She has also won several international awards and is the youngest Hispanic to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 33.