Hispanic Heritage Month — observed annually from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 — is a celebration of the history, culture and contributions of Hispanic Americans — specifically those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. As the largest ethnic minority in the United States — making up 18.9% of the total U.S. population, according to 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data — Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for recognizing the tremendous impact this population has had on the history and fabric of the United States.    

The month of September is a significant time in Hispanic history because it coincides with the anniversaries of independence from Spain for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua (which celebrate their independence on Sept. 15), Mexico (Sept. 16), Chile (Sept. 17) and Belize (Sept. 21), according to the National Hispanic Heritage Month website. Extending into October, the 30-day window also aligns with Día de la Raza (“Day of the Race”) on Oct. 12 — also known as Columbus Day — which some Hispanic countries acknowledge as a time for recognizing the historic implications the arrival of Christopher Columbus had on the Americas.  

Beginning as a week-long event in 1968, Hispanic Heritage was first recognized when a bill sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Roybal of Los Angeles was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1988, legislation sponsored by Rep. Esteban Edward Torres of Pico Rivera (and amended by Sen. Paul Simon) expanded the week into a month-long celebration when the bill was signed by President Ronald Regan. 

This year, the theme of National Hispanic Heritage Month is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” Announced by the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM), this year’s theme “encourages us to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger nation.” First 5 LA joins in celebrating the legacies that have shaped American culture and history by sharing some of the educational resources and activities planned across L.A. County this year. 

Educational Resources 

Smithsonian National Museum: Nuestra América: 30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States 

National Today: Hispanic Heritage Month 2022 

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Official Website 

Events & Activities 

Los Angeles Public Library: Los Angeles Libros Festival – Two days of entertainment for all ages featuring Spanish-language and bilingual storytelling, performances, workshops, and award-winning authors. Sept. 23 & 24 (Virtual and in-person) 

En Familia Con La Plaza: Virtual Series: Get creative at home! Explore easy-to-follow workshops that include art, culinary, and garden activities. (Virtual) 

LA Plaze de Cultura Y Artes: From stories to music, family friendly events are taking place all month long at LA Plaze de Cultura Y Artes. (Virtual and in-person) 

Hispanic Heritage Month in Antelope Valley: Celebrate the most anticipated family event, to keep our cultural traditions alive and highlight the contribution of the Latino community in the Antelope Valley. (Sept. 17, In-person) 

Aquarium of the Pacific: The beautiful, weekend-long Baja Splash Cultural Festival returns to the Long Beach aquatic institution. At the heart of the happening are educational programs and booths with a focus on the environment, along with a lovely line-up of music and dance performances. (Sept. 24 and 25., In-person) 

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden: An afternoon poetry reading spotlighting the Arcadia destination’s “Six Word Blooms Papel Picado and Poetry Exhibition” will take place on Sept. 18, with an eye-catching emphasis on the marvelous Mexican tradition. (Sept. 18, In-person)

Sprinkles: The SoCal-started company is featuring the La Gloria cupcake, a treat that’s part of the bakery’s Female Chef Series, through Sept. 25. Acclaimed chef Claudette Zepeda’s celebratory caramel-deep confection takes its yummy notes from Mexico’s famous Glorias candies. 

El Capitan Theatre: Enjoy a return engagement of Disney and Pixar’s hit animated film “Encanto” at the Hollywood movie palace from Sept. 16 through 22, with something especially ebullient in store: Mirabel will appear live on stage at each screening. (Sept. 16-22, In-person)

MainPlace Mall: The Santa Ana shopping center will host a free gathering on Sept. 17, one filled with mariachi music, folklorico dance performances in the Macy’s Court area. The merriment takes place from noon to 3 o’clock. (Sept. 17, In-person)

Other Resources for Hispanic Families 

West Los Angeles Family Source Center: Services for Latino Families 

Mexican American Opportunity Fund