In 1968, President Johnson commemorated the first Hispanic Heritage Week to honor the cultures and contributions of Latin Americans in our country. Twenty years later, President Reagan expanded the week-long celebration from September 15 through October 15, thus creating Hispanic Heritage Month. But why does it start in the middle of September?
September 15 is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, while Mexico celebrates their independence day on September 16 and Chile on September 18.
Our library and communities are enriched with many cultures from all corners of the world, including those from Latin America and the Caribbean islands. It’s these people that help shape the stories we continue to celebrate every day.
We asked some of our local representatives and staff members a simple, yet essential question:
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
“Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of who I am. As a 1st generation American I treasure the culture and values inherited from my parents and take pride on being able to pass them on to my children so that they never forget their heritage.”
– Mayra Uribe, Orange County Commissioner, Distirct 3
“Why do we behave or feel a certain way? It can be related to our culture and heritage. Learning my culture and heritage is about knowing more about myself and how I can grow into a better version of myself for my family, children and future generations. We learn from our past, to not repeat it, as well as to learn what makes us our best selves.”
– Emily Bonilla, Orange County Commissioner, District 5
“Although we celebrate Latino history during September and October, it is important that we recognize it has been a part of American history for centuries and should be celebrated year-round. As a native from the island of Puerto Rico, I am proud of my roots that taught me the true meaning of community and serving others.”
– Tony Ortiz, Orlando City Commissioner, District 2
“Hispanic Heritage Month means being appreciative of the sacrifice my parents made to uproot their whole lives to move our family to the United States to give my brother and I access to better opportunities.”
– Ruben Cortes, Collection Development Librarian
“Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is one of my favorite ways to honor all the cultural richness and diversity in our community! I love being able to assist with the planning of virtual programs such as Mama Gansa bilingual storytimes and the Being Bilingual Rocks music event.”
– Jessica Vazquez-Pinkowski, Youth Services Assistant Manager
“I love Hispanic Heritage Month because it allows us to highlight and showcase our Hispanic culture. It is a time of teaching and learning through art, cooking, spoken word and much more. The community learns about the contributions, struggles and advancements Hispanics have made throughout history. This month is important to me because it reminds me to take a step back to reflect on the importance of being proud of who I am.”
– Olga Rodriguez, Circulation Assistant Manager
“To me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a particular time to highlight our culture’s achievements and contributions. To bring awareness to our community, show our struggles, and be grateful for how the USA is a land of opportunities. How proud we are to work for more representation from Hispanic and Latinos in different areas to contribute to our society’s best.”
– Alibeth Suarez, Friends of the Orange County Library System Board Member
“Our stories have made us who we are: strong, hardworking, enthusiastic people with a sense of humor and community. No matter where we come from or what we’ve gone through, our Hispanic heritage stays with us and affects the way we connect with people and see the world. Hispanic Heritage Month is a way to celebrate us, our cultural backgrounds and contributions.”
– Zully Escobar, Winter Garden Branch Manager