University celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month during pandemic, ahead of the 2020 census

Author: Adriana Perez

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This story by Adriana Perez was originally published in The Observer on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.


In the midst of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected Latino communities and in light of the upcoming census and general election, Notre Dame’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month offers opportunities to celebrate the more than 1,000 University undergraduates who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.

Sept. 15 marked the beginning of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. Luis Fraga, director of the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), said this celebration aims to recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino communities in the nation’s history and society.

“The idea behind it is, let’s celebrate the good things as a way to remember how we can make things even better for these communities in the country,” Fraga said.

The official celebration of Hispanic heritage in the United States began in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan expanded it to a 30-day event spanning Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

The start date was chosen because it coincided with the commemoration of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In the following days, the independence of other Latin American countries is celebrated too, such as Mexico, Chile and Belize.

About two or three years ago, Fraga said the ILS decided to “lead the University” in recognizing this month. Since then, the ILS has organized a series of events between mid-September and mid-October to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx heritage in Notre Dame and the United States.