Join us as we celebrate the achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans in the United States.
Latinx is a gender-neutral or nonbinary term that is used as an alternative to Latino/a. It refers to people whose origin or ancestry is in Latin America.
Hispanic Heritage Month takes place September 15 to October 15 every year as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latinx community.
Beginning in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally observed as “Hispanic Heritage Week” under President Lyndon B. Johnson, but it was later extended to a month during President Ronald Reagan’s term in 1988. September 15th was chosen as a start date to coincide with the Independence Day celebrations of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile observe their independence on September 16th and September 18th, respectively.
Mónica is an activist, attorney, and the founder of the nonprofit Justice For Migrant Women. For over two decades, she has fought for the civil and human rights of women, children, workers, Latinos/as and immigrants. You may know Mónica as the woman who wrote the ‘'Dear Sisters' open letter to the women of Hollywood from farmworker women that sparked the TIME'S UP movement. Most recently, she organized the ‘Querida Famila’ letter that appeared in the New York Times with 200 artists, activists, labor and civil rights leaders signing to support a letter of love and solidarity to the Latino community following the El Paso shooting and ICE Raids this August. As part of her work with Justice for Migrant Women, just this year, Mónica worked alongside leaders in Washington to introduce numerous pieces of legislation (among them the Be Heard Act and The CARE Act) and was awarded the 2019 MAFO Lifetime Achievement Award. Learn more.
Luz is president of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, an organization that exists to help low-income families strengthen their voice and mobilize their communities in order to achieve a more just and equitable society for all. She's also a founder of Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP). Her work with the foundation strengthens hispanic change makers organically through its mission, but she also helped create this organization to specifically celebrate their work. Through a multitiered approach of providing funding, training and a network building amongst Marguerite Casey Foundation grantees, Luz has led the effort in supporting a diverse group of nonprofit organizations nationwide that address issues that affect low-income families. She has also nurtured the growth of leaders within low-income communities. Luz believes those closest to the problem are often closest to the solution, so instead of dictating from a tower of leadership what needs to be done, she instead listens and lifts up the voices of passionate leaders who have faced these issues first hand. Learn more.
Antonio Arellano is the Interim Executive Director of Jolt, a Texas-based Latino civic engagement organization. Antonio is a proven human rights advocate, whose efforts have resulted in the engagement, and mobilization of thousands of young Latino voters in Texas. Named one of the most influential Latinos in the United States by Hispanicize, Antonio's social media accounts reach a combined 100 thousand millennial voters. He uses his voice and platforms to encourage young Latinos to make systemic change on racial, immigration, economic, environmental and gender justice through leadership development, non-partisan voter registration, grassroots organizing and advocacy.
Antonio’s consistent innovation has garnered national attention, and he has been featured in MSNBC, the Washington Post, Huffpost and USA Today. Learn more.
My culture and heritage have shaped my values, my identity, and my perspective on the world. Through my work in media, I believe that I have an opportunity and responsibility to share those values and perspectives with others.
I am thankful that I am able to contribute unique perspectives as the result of life experiences that have shaped me. When I am able to share a story, fact or experience derived from my cultural upbringing, I know that I am bringing new thoughts and ideas to other Americans that they may not have heard before.
The appreciation I have for my heritage and culture drives my passion to highlight how Hispanics and non-Hispanics across this great nation have worked together toward building a greater future. At the same time, that passion motivates me to advocate for policies that empower my community and surrounding communities.
Media is a powerful medium that influences our perspective on politics, culture, society, national events, and so on. Media creates the narrative that shapes the context through by which we live our daily lives. In the absence of the representation of the different and unique experiences and backgrounds, we run the dangerous risk of leaving out key voices on the debates that impact our country.
I also believe in the power of role models, and while being a spokesperson on media doesn’t include being a role model in the conventional sense, I do believe it gives hope and inspiration to people that share my background to also achieve their goals and dreams.
I am a big believer in reflection. For me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to reflect and remember own experiences and people that have shaped who we are today. Sometimes that leads to great memories that are worth celebrating and highlighting. Other times, though they may be unfortunate, serve as lessons that empower us to be better. Hispanic Heritage Month provides a moment for Hispanics and Non-Hispanics alike to look at the stories of others and learn from their victories and struggles.
Many times, issues come up that are directly related to my own heritage or experience as an immigrant and a Latin in America. I try to share that first hand perspective.
I often get stopped by young women, particularly women of color, to tell em how much it means to them to see people who look like them and sound like them, on tv. Diversity matters because it shows little boys and little girls of any color and ethnicity that they can follow their dreams and grow-up to be anything they want to be. It is very humbling.
Partially in today’s climate, it is so important to highlight the contributions Hispanics have made to America. It’s important to show Hispanics are America.
There is so much I love about my heritage and culture—the food, music, our history, and the contributions to, and sacrifices for, we have made to this country since before it was founded are just a few. But what has influenced me most and served as the foundation of my career have been the values our community holds that were taught to me and my six brothers and sisters by my parents, Alfredo and Amalia. They instilled in us the importance of personal responsibility and a strong sense of family, faith, community, hard work, and sacrifice—those values have been guiding principles in my life.
UnidosUS has had improving the media image of Latinos as part of our mission since our founding. This is because we know our lack of visibility overall and the negative portrayals when we are portrayed have had a very negative impact on how our fellow Americans view us as a community. It is an issue we identified 50 years ago but unfortunately, we are currently experiencing one of the worst periods when it comes to misinformation, misperception, and stereotyping.
What is especially concerning is the effect this has on young Latinos and Latinas. Studies have shown that not seeing themselves on television or seeing negative stereotypes in the media affects a child’s self-esteem. Conversely, when they do see themselves, it has a tremendously positive effect and allows to dream bigger and seek greater opportunities.
Like the fight for greater media representation, Hispanic Heritage Month, which began more than 50 years ago, was a corrective to the American narrative that all too often left out our community. It is a month to showcase our American story, one that dates back to before the founding of this nation. It is an opportunity to highlight the contributions we have made to making the United States the nation it is today. For the far too many people who still don’t this community or our story, it is important to let them know, for example, that Hispanics have fought in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War with distinction and bravery, which has earned them the most Congressional Medals of Honor of any minority group in the country.