Celebrating Hispanic Heritage and Contributions to Pennsylvania
By: Darwin Paz, Digital Assistant
October 14, 2016
As National Hispanic Heritage Month 2016 draws to a close, we continue to recognize the many ways Hispanics contribute to the growth of Pennsylvania. Over the last month, Pennsylvanians have taken the opportunity to celebrate the cultural traditions and to honor the significant achievements of our Hispanic and Latino American communities.
History of Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month evolved from National Hispanic Heritage Week, first observed in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded this celebration to cover the 30-day period we are familiar with today: September 15 through October 15th.
This date range is significant because it includes the dates that many South American countries celebrate the anniversary of their independence, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. This date range also encompasses the celebration of Día de la Raza or Columbus Day, which is on October 12.
To further exemplify this national observance, Governor Tom Wolf signed a proclamation recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month in Pennsylvania.
Over the last month, organizations across the commonwealth hosted events to recognize the many contributions Hispanic Americans make to our commonwealth.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than 834,000 Hispanic Americans call Pennsylvania home and lead in business, industry, government, education, the sciences, arts, faith and the armed forces.
- Pennsylvania’s Hispanic American population grew by more than 80 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. Census data.
- A study lead by the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce found that the Greater Philadelphia Region, representing the second largest Hispanic market in northeastern United States, grew by 58.3% from 2000 to 2010.
- That same study also highlighted that Hispanic Americans in the Greater Philadelphia Region have a total purchasing power of approximately $4.2 billion.
Dating back to the revolution, Hispanic Americans have always played a an integral role in government, including helping Pennsylvania champion its title as the keystone state during the formation of the United States.
Today, two of the commonwealth’s highest positions are served by Hispanic Americans: Secretary Pedro Cortez, Pennsylvania Department of State, and Secretary Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for all Pennsylvanians to join together to celebrate our commonwealth’s rich, diverse heritage and our common pursuit of life and liberty.
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