History and Celebration: Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month

Courtesy+of+the+Equity+Office

Courtesy of the Equity Office

Elena Wright , Staff Writer

Sept. 15 marked the start of National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, and State High is celebrating. Hispanic Heritage month is a time for Americans to celebrate and appreciate the contributions of Hispanic people in the United States. As the largest growing minority at 18% of the population, the Hispanic community is a diverse group from 30+ different countries. Started in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, Hispanic Heritage Week was created to recognize the “great contribution to our national heritage made by our people of Hispanic descent.” It was later expanded to an entire month (Sept 15-Oct 15) under President Ronald Raegan in 1988 according to CNN.

Hispanic heritage month represents different things to those who identify as Hispanic or Latinx, and there are a variety of ways that people can choose to celebrate. Gabriel Luis Mijangos Sampsell is new to the district and a junior at Delta High. Originally from Chiapas (a state in Southern Mexico), Mijangos Sampsell shared how he celebrates Mexican Independence Day. 

“In Mexico we celebrate our day of independence the 15th of September, although this day is the celebration of Mexico’s independence from Spain, we try to celebrate Mexican culture through the years,” Mijangos Sapsell said. 

In addition to celebrating the achievements and contributions of Hispanic people, this month helps start conversations about challenges faced by the Hispanic/Latinx community. Ashley Diaz, Equity Liaison & Peer Advocate Program Coordinator at State High, spoke on the importance of celebrating Hispanic heritage month and how it can benefit the school community.

“This month reminds us about the importance of learning about the achievements and contributions of key Hispanic/Latinx figures, but also the systemic barriers that Hispanic/Latinx people have faced in the past and continue to face in the U.S,” Diaz said.

Diaz also believes that discussing the systemic oppression faced by the Hispanic/Latinx community and exploring ways to dismantle those systems is essential. 

“We can do this by advocating for various issues that affect this community, including in the State College Area School District,” Diaz said. 

State High is hosting a variety of events to celebrate the month. Salsa Night is Friday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Center for Equity at State High (next to LGI cafeteria), and will include a brief history of salsa dancing as well as dancing lessons. 

“We hope that this event will be a celebration of Hispanic/Latinx dances and bring the SCASD community together to learn more about this dance art form and the meaning it has within the Hispanic/Latinx community,” Diaz said.

Another upcoming event is a panel where Hispanic/Latinx community members will share life stories—both personal and professional—and their experiences in State College. This event will take place Oct. 13 from 6-7:30 p.m with location TBA. All students and faculty are welcome to attend either of these events. Furthermore, those interested in finding ways to help the Office of Equity and Inclusivity within SCASD may contact [email protected] to get involved.

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