Today (September 15) marks start of Latinx Heritage month. This observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. 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 September 18, respectively.

While this heritage month provides an opportunity to honor the history, culture, and contributions of those who come from Latin American, Central and South America, and The Caribbean, it’s also an opportunity to revisit the name of this commemoration. 

The government website dedicated to this heritage month still refers to it as Hispanic Heritage Month. For years, the appropriateness of the name has been called into question, with some arguing that efforts to commemorate the month – particularly among marketers – have perpetuated stereotypes and alienated a significant number of people. New York Times Art Critic Isabelia Herrera addressed some of these issues in a New York Times article titled “Does Hispanic Heritage Month Need a Rebrand?: For starters, why is “Hispanic” still part of the name?.”  

“Many of us bristle at the persistence of the term “Hispanic,” given its connection to Spain and colonization. Those with African and indigenous roots often feel left out of conversations and celebrations under that label,” she wrote. “And while the time period, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, is significant because seven Latin American countries celebrate their independence in that span, this association presents a complication: When dozens of countries’ traditions are meant to be represented, are any of them actually getting their due?” 

“Language and identity are complex,” said Kristine A. Din, Stonehill’s Director of Intercultural Affairs. “There is no one perfect term to encompass all the diversity within the Hispanic and Latinx/a/o communities. The movement toward the use of Latinx/a/o instead of Hispanic is an effort to include a broader number of populations since the term Hispanic, generally speaking, refers to those who are of Spanish-speaking origins, which inevitably excludes communities like those who are Brazilian. Latinx/a/o refers to geography, which can bring together those from other countries in South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. Nonetheless, identity is unique, personal, and complex. Individuals may or may not identify with one term or the other – or with multiple!” 

Stonehill, along with institutions like University of Pittsburgh, WPI, Syracuse University, previously made the decision to change the name of the commemoration to Latinx/a/o Heritage Month, Latinx-Hispanic Heritage Month or Latinx Heritage month.

In honor of Latinx Heritage month, check out some of the items in MacPhaidin Library’s collection: 


Streaming Films 

Also, check out the latest installment of Intercultural Happenings from Stonehill’s Office of Intercultural Affairs with information about Stonehill’s Latinx Heritage Month events.