By Marisela D.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

What is it? 

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually in the United States to recognize the achievements and contributions that Hispanic Americans have made to build our country. During this month-long celebration, we not only stop to take a look at cultural and historical contributions, but also to notice the great economic impact Latinos have on our economic growth.

A Bit of History 

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Week. 20 years later, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan enacted it into law and extended it to a month-long celebration starting September 15 through October 15. September 15 is significant because it marks the independence anniversary of several Latin American countries.

Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic? 

Before we go further let me clear these terms that I use interchangeably. What is correct? Who is what? Relax, it’s simple.

  • Hispanic: A person that originated from a Spanish-speaking country.
  • Latino/Latina: Someone that descended from a Latin American country but whose language is not necessarily Spanish.
  • Latinx: This is a fairly new word that is a gender-neutral way of describing people of Latin American background.

I’m of Mexican descent and personally am comfortable with any of the above described. Hispanics/Latinxs have been lumped into this big group, but we can have very different histories, traditions, and cultures.

Contributions and Influence 

According to the U.S. 2020 census, in Miami alone, the Hispanic population was 68.6%. In the entire U.S., there are over 60 million Hispanics. That makes up 18.5% of the total population and 16.7% of the total workforce. Latinos fuel over half of the growth in our country. The GDP (gross domestic product) of Latinos has grown from 1.7 trillion in 2010 to 2.7 trillion in 2021. Latino buying power is on the rise, 70% faster than non-Latinos.

It wasn’t always like this. Things have evolved thanks to Hispanics that paved the way for the rest. Champions like Cesar Chavez, a brave activist for farmers’ rights, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1993. Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic Justice to serve on the Supreme Court. Hispanics like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz have provided representation in government. Dr. Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic to become an astronaut. As of July 2022, 32% of the MLB baseball players were Hispanic. Roberto Clemente paved the way for the Hispanics that followed.

There is also a great Hispanic influence in music and the arts. We see the influence in jazz and blues and other genres like salsa, tango, Latin pop, Bachata, Reggaeton, Samba, Bossa Nova, etc. Those music types are now enjoyed all over the U.S. Jose Ferrer was the first Hispanic to receive an Oscar for his portrayal of Cyrano de Bergerac, and Rita Moreno became the first Female Hispanic to win an Oscar and the coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony recipient). The Hispanic Oscar recipient list also includes Anthony Quinn, my classmate Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek, Jorge Drexler, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu.

As a Hispanic, I have enjoyed being bicultural and bilingual. I have come to enjoy and respect not just my culture but other cultures that have come to enrich our country. I invite you to join the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at EVPL and join the fiesta!


Hispanic Heritage Month Programs at EVPL

Piñata Contest
This year as a part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library and the Centro Latino + Americano have partnered to bring you a Piñata Contest! Piñatas should be registered between Tuesday, September 6, and Friday, September 23, at EVPL Central.

Hispanic American Author Book Match
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by matching Hispanic American authors with their books. Come by EVPL Red Bank or participate virtually!
September 15 – October 15 • All day
EVPL Red Bank

Hispanic Heritage Celebration: Movie & Craft
Join us at EVPL West for our Hispanic Heritage Celebration: Movie & Craft. We will be watching Encanto and building our own ‘casitas’ (little homes).
Tuesday, September 13 • 3:30 pm

Hispanic Heritage Celebration: Movie & Craft
Join us at EVPL Stringtown for our Hispanic Heritage Celebration: Movie & Craft. We will be watching Coco and making our own maracas and papel picado!
Tuesday, September 20 • 4:00 pm
EVPL Stringtown

Saturday Movie
Watch the movie Encanto and make your own magic candle afterward.
Saturday, September 24 • 1:00 pm
EVPL Red Bank

Hispanic Heritage Celebration: Movie & Craft
Join us at EVPL-East for our Hispanic Heritage Celebration: Movie & Craft. We will be watching the movie Rio!
Monday, September 26 • 3:30 pm

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: A Teen Materials Talk
Tuesday, September 20
EVPL Virtual

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: An Adult Materials Talk
Tuesday, September 27
EVPL Virtual

Hispanic Heritage Month Award Ceremony
Awards will be given out to the winners of the piñata contest taking place from September 15 through October 10 throughout EVPL Central.
Thursday, October 13 • 6:00 pm
EVPL Central

Marisela D.
Experience Facilitator

Marisela D.

With 8 locations throughout Vanderburgh County, EVPL is ready to discover, explore, and connect WITH you! We encourage you to uncover new things, revisit old favorites, and to engage with us along the way.

Piñata Contest
LCSUM 2022