National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15th to October 15th. This part of the year is set aside for Americans to commemorate the families whose ancestors originated from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America.
Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, started this observation in the year 1968. Ronald Raegan, who came to office in the years to follow, increased the days of celebration to thirty.
September 15th is a significant date for the people in these cultures because it marks the anniversary of five Latin American countries gaining independence: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras. Other events that fall within this time period include Mexico’s Independence Day which is on September 16th, Chile’s Independence Day on September 18th, and Columbus, or Día de la Raza, on October 12th.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to honor the sacrifices made and to recognize those of Latin American and Hispanic descent that have contributed to the development of the United States. Such growth has been made in areas like entertainment, government, education, technology, and many others thanks to this group of individuals.
Susannah Goodman, a Senior Communications major, is Chair of the Multicultural Council here at Messiah College. She states, “The Multicultural Council is an umbrella organization that represents five multicultural organizations, including African Student Union, Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, International Student Association/MuKappa, and La Alianza Latina. We give support and raise awareness of cultures from domestic and international underrepresented populations among students.”
The Multicultural Council is essentially made up of representatives from each of the five organizations of students.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Multicultural Council had three events during the month of October. The first celebration occurred on October 2nd. This event was called a “Baila” and it was an opportunity for students to learn how to dance to various Latina genres of music. The Multicultural Council partnered with the Student Activities Board’s Cultural Engagement Executive to make this event possible.
The second event was held on October 7th and it included a catered dinner with various students on the topic of immigration. Students were encouraged to share their personal testimonies with other students who gathered around and enjoyed a meal together.
The third event followed immediately after the dinner and it included a panel discussion that opened up the realities of immigration.
Goodman also mentioned, “The media generalizes a lot of people and not everyone is able to share their individual stories. I was very interested in hearing people share their stories at the panel. We got to walk a mile in their shoes as they opened up about immigration.”
Susannah Goodman and Jenn Sanchez, who is Vice President of La Alianza Latina encourage all students on campus to attend their events, regardless if they are a part of the five organizations.
Sanchez reflected on this past month’s celebration saying, “We were proud to have continued the annual tradition of sharing Latino pride throughout the month through various events. It was inspiring seeing so many people engage in Latino culture and we hope to see that engagement grow throughout the year and in years to follow!”