President Lyndon B. Johnson first introduced National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. Congress expanded it from a week to a month long beginning in 1989, after it was amended into public law in 1988 during Ronald Reagan's presidency. In Presidential Proclamation 3869, available via the Library of Congress, President Johnson wrote, “Wishing to pay special tribute to the Hispanic tradition, and having in mind the fact that our five Central American neighbors celebrate their Independence Day on the fifteenth of September and the Republic of Mexico on the sixteenth, the Congress by House Joint Resolution 1299, has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating the week including September 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week.” On August 17, 1988, Congress passed a law to extend it into a month-long holiday during Ronald Reagan's presidency. The first Hispanic Heritage Month was celebrated in 1989. Continue reading from Oprah Magazine
The festival now lasts from September 15 to October 15 every year, but it first started out as just a week long celebration of in 1968. Twenty years later, in 1988 it expanded to dedicate a whole four weeks for the celebration of being Hispanic.
The celebration starts in the middle of the month, as opposed to the end, because the 15th marks the independence days of five Latin America countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize follow shortly after, on the 16th, 18th and 21st. Hispanic Heritage Month “pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society,” according to the official website. Continue reading from Time