Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history, diverse cultures, achievements, and contributions of Hispanic Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Hispanic Heritage Month is also referred to as Latinx Heritage Month (the x indicating nonbinary gender inclusivity) but they are not the same thing: Hispanic refers to people who speak Spanish or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations, while Latinx refers to people who are from or descended from people from Latin America.
The first nationally recognized Hispanic heritage observation came in 1968 with a weeklong commemoration. The recognition was expanded in 1988 to 30 days, from September 15 – October 15.
September 15 is significant because it is Independence Day for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, while Mexico celebrates independence on September 16 and Chile on September 18. Indigenous People’s Day and Día de la Raza are celebrated by many Spanish speaking countries during this time as well.
The 2022 recognition theme, Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation, is a reminder of the resilience and hope inherent in Latinx communities, particularly as many of these communities locally and around the country have been disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.
In celebrating the contributions and achievements of Hispanic and Latinx Americans, we have an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the very best of what our nation aspires to be: a place that welcomes immigrants and their descendants and celebrates multiculturalism, weaving diverse cultures and traditions into our national fabric for the betterment of all.
–UW President Ana Mari Cauce
Hispanic cultural heritage in the Pacific Northwest dates to 1774, when Spanish and Mexican explorers began a long period of discovery and cartography along the coast. Place names like the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca acknowledge the legacy of this exploration.
According to 2020 U.S. Census data, 13% of Washington’s residents identify as Hispanic or Latinx.
Not all whose heritage hails from Central or Latin America speak Spanish as a first or even second language. Portuguese is spoken in Brazil, and French is the official language in some Caribbean nations. Many indigenous languages are spoken in these regions as well.
Hispanic and Latinx culture at UW
- Head over to Kane Hall for a look at Mexican-American artist Pablo O’Higgins’ monumental work The Struggle Against Racial Discrimination, which he created over the course of ten years for a Seattle maritime workers’ union hall as a symbol of Mexican and American cooperation. Several murals by Latinx artists are also part of the Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center collection.
- Explore Hispanic history and culture through the College of Arts & Sciences’ collection of art, media, writing, programs and communities by Latinx faculty, students and alumni.
- The Burke Museum’s contemporary culture and ethnology collections include textiles and other artwork from Mexico, Central and South America, such as the Fred Hart pottery collection, the largest of its kind in North America.
- The UW Center for Heritage Learners provides a safe space in which heritage students can embrace their unique cultural and linguistic abilities by sharing, learning and developing their multilingual and multicultural abilities in a positive way through community-building, self-confidence, academic support services, and employment opportunities.
- Leadership Without Borders, a program of the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center, is dedicated to building a comprehensive pathway for undocumented students’ access and success at UW and beyond. Learn more about their Undocu Ally Training program and their digital campaign DACA Myth Busters.
- The Latinx Student Union at UW is committed to building a friendly, supportive, and empowering community for Latinx students from different cultural and racial backgrounds.
- The UW Latinx Faculty & Staff Association is an advocacy, leadership development and social network that addresses Latinx issues in higher education, including the educational concerns and advancement of the UW Latinx community.
- In Health Sciences, the Latino Center for Health provides leadership for community-engaged research through capacity building and authentic partnerships with community stakeholders to promote impactful improvements in the health and well-being of Latinx communities in Washington state, regionally, and nationally.
- At UW Bothell, the Latino Leadership Initiative Program was designed to provide leadership training and opportunities to Latinx students.
- The Latinx Health Pathway, sponsored by the UW School of Medicine Center for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, works to provide a number of educational opportunities and experiences to medical students that will better prepare them to provide culturally responsive care for the Hispanic population.
Celebrando Comunidad recognizes and celebrates the contributions of those in the South Puget Sound who identify as members of Latinx communities or organizations who directly and positively impact South Sound Latinx communities. Register to attend the second annual Celebrando Comunidad at UW Tacoma on Friday, October 14th at 6:00 PM, UW Tacoma, William Philip Hall 1918 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402
- Watch Why Do We Say Latino? on PBS and learn about the history of Latino, Hispanic and Latinx terms.
- Watch 10 Great TED Talks by Hispanic and Latinx Speakers for Hispanic Heritage Month. Talks range from ideas of identity and personal growth to politics and immigration.
- In Celebrating Diversity: Meet Mexico’s Third Gender, learn about muxes, Mexican Indigenous individuals in the Oaxaca region identifying as a third gender.
- There are more than 50 National Park Services sites that have Hispanic connections. Take a virtual tour of some of the U.S. national parks with American Latino heritage.
Seattle Public Library: Hispanic Heritage Month 2022: Books for Kids
Support: Give through the UWCFD
Consider making a one-time gift or setting up monthly payroll deduction through the UWCFD to one of our member organizations providing services and encouraging social empowerment to Hispanic and Latinx communities in Washington and beyond:
CASA Latina (charity code 0315614): Empowers Latino immigrants through educational and economic opportunities, including day labor employment, English language classes, workplace safety and job skills trainings, leadership development, and community organizing around issues of public policy that affect immigrant workers.
Catholic Community Services- Columbia River (charity code 0316393): Designs and provides vital services in English and Spanish to the poor and most vulnerable people of four counties in southwestern communities of Washington.
CIELO (charity code 0456569): Offers intensive, interactive family support and educational services that help the Latino community achieve social empowerment. We provide services for adult learners’ families and establish trusting relationships that help the Latino community.
Consejo Counseling and Referral Service (charity code 0337159): Award winning, Latino focused, multi-service agency whose services transform, strengthen, and empower. Core programs: Mental Health, Domestic Violence/ Sexual Assault, Youth Families, Substance Abuse, Transitional Housing.
El Centro De La Raza (charity code 0316486): Grounded in the Latino community, our mission is to build unity across all racial and economic sectors, to organize, empower, and defend our most vulnerable and marginalized populations and to bring justice, dignity, equality, and freedom to all the peoples of the world.
Entre Hermanos (charity code 0524060): Works to improve the health and well-being of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Latino/a community in a safe and culturally appropriate environment.
Hispanic Academic Achievers Program (charity code 1480735): HAAP provides a springboard for Hispanic students their families to strive for a better life through education. Scholarships are awarded to high school seniors from Benton Franklin Counties, a recognition event for 4th-12th grade w/ 3.0 or better.
Hispanic Scholarship Fund (charity code 0315681): HSF is the nation’s leading organization supporting Hispanic higher education. HSF’s vision: to strengthen the country by advancing college education among Hispanic Americans.
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (charity code 0456889): MALDEF promotes and protects the civil rights of Latinos in the areas of Education, Employment, Immigrant Rights, Political Access and administers scholarships for Law students. MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino civil rights organization.
National Council of La Raza (charity code 1480233): NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States that works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.
Viva Hispanic Foundation NW (charity code 0315830): provides educational support and opportunities, conducts programs aimed at empowering the Hispanic and other minority communities in the State of Washington.
The Whole U encourages community-based support, civic engagement, and advocacy by and for Hispanic and Latinx people in pursuit of fair representation and equal economic and educational opportunity. We intentionally use the term Latinx to signal our solidarity with historically oppressed groups.