Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and significant contributions of Hispanics in the United States and around the world whose roots come from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. This month is also a time for the United States Military to honor both fallen and active duty Hispanic Americans who proudly served in the armed forces to build and defend our nation.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30-day period.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. The month was first proclaimed by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and Presidents since then have issued yearly proclamations. In Virginia the Governor follows suit and may even host a reception at the Executive Mansion and/or host a Latino Summit.
Importance to the United States:
- Hispanics remain an important part of the nation’s overall demographic story. They are the country’s second largest racial or ethnic group, behind white non-Hispanics, and are among the youngest racial or ethnic groups, but with one of the largest increases in median age over the past decade.
- The U.S. Hispanic population reached a record 60.6 million in 2019, up 930,000 over the previous year and up from 50.7 million in 2010, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau.
- Between 2010 and 2019, share of the total U.S. population increased from 16% to 18%. Hispanics accounted for about half (52%) of all U.S. population growth over this period.
- Hispanic influences, from music and food, to art and literature, are tightly knitted in the fabric of American life.
- This is the month Hispanic children can learn about their roots, and is a chance for non-Hispanics to learn more about the culture and the longstanding and remarkable contributions Hispanics have made and continue to make to the growth and prosperity of the nation.
Importance to Virginia:
- Latinos can trace their heritage in Virginia back 500 years, almost a full century before the first colonists landed in Jamestown in 1607. These pioneers entered the Chesapeake Bay in 1525, leaving a permanent mark of diversity and cultural patrimony in the Commonwealth that continues in 2020. The incredible accomplishments and progress the community has made in industry, the arts, and culturally is a combination of the social and intellectual contributions that bridge centuries of Latino presence in Virginia.
- The Latino community of the Commonwealth contributes in significant ways to the economic and social well-being of modern Virginia. Since 2010 the community has witnessed a 32.1% increase, with the Census estimating as of July 2019 that Virginia’s Latinos number more than 834,000. This is the 16th largest population in the U.S. and is roughly 9.8% of the entire Virginia population, concentrating in Northern Virginia, the Tidewater region, and the Richmond Metropolitan area. The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis estimates that by 2030 Latinos will represent 17.2% of Virginia’s population, numbering over 1,600,000 residents, and accounting for 79% of Virginia’s growth.5 1 in 10 Virginians are now Latino,
- Latinos in Virginia are diverse in origin, live in every part of the state, and skew younger compared to the rest of the population. Salvadoran, Mexican, and Puerto Rican heritage accounts for over half of Latinos in Virginia, with countries in the Caribbean, and South and Central America accounting for the remainder. With a median age of 29 and 22% under the age of 18, Virginia has a large and young Latino population. Over half (54.2%) are bilingual, and over a quarter (27.7%) only speak English. An estimated 120,000 or 17.3% speak Spanish and limited or no English. In addition, Portuguese, and indigenous languages of South and Central America are the native languages of a smaller percentage of Virginians.
- In the 2019-2020 school year 221,000 (17%) of Virginia’s 1.3 million K-12 public school students were Latino.
- Because of the success in business of the Hispanics particularly in the State of Virginia, a growing number of employments are escalating especially in the administrative and technical sector. Due to the further increase of Hispanic population, it is predicted that in the following years, companies owned by the Hispanics will grow even more not only in the state of Virginia but all over the U.S.
- Over the growing number of businesses in Virginia, Fairfax County released that nearly 34% of the business firm in Virginia are owned by the Hispanics surpassing that of its local business firms and roughly 1.9 billion of sales and receipts are represented by the Hispanic companies in the state.
- Virginia has the highest rank of technology based employment all over the United States which generally comprises most of the Hispanic-owned technology firms. Fairfax County, Virginia’s most populous and powerful county is the head quarter of the three most successful and growing Hispanic-owned business firms in the US (MicroTech, The Centech Group, Inc., and Provideo Management).