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And Now for Something Completely Different: A Brief History of Latino Heritage Month

Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library,
Blog banner for Celebrate Latino Heritage Month

Celebrate Latino Heritage Month, but first, a brief history:

The observation of Hispanic or Latino Heritage Month originated in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson and started as Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan expanded that to 30 days: “It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402. 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. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.” This heritage month celebrates “ …the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central, and South America.”

Within the Latino literary canon, there is rich diversity, not from one country, place, time, or from one language: Tenochtitlan, Iturbide, Salgado, Baca and more ...peruse this list from Ancient to Modern Contributions to the Diaspora.

Latino Heritage Month Suggested Reading

Baca: Art, Collaboration & Mural Making
Ontiveros, Mario.

California's Spanish Place-Names: What They Mean and How They Got There
Marinacci, Barbara.

The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City
Mundy, Barbara E,

Tenochtitlan was the capital of the Aztec empire, built on an island, it was one of the largest cities in the world. In 1521, Hernando Cortes declared to the Spanish King, Charles V, that he had destroyed the city. Art historian Barbara Mundy’s research proves that was not the case, and highlights other aspects of this extraordinary city.

The Elements of San Joaquin: Poems
Soto, Gary,

From My Land to the Planet
Salgado, Sebastiao, 1944-

Hi, This is Conchita and Other Stories
Roncagliolo, Santiago,

Santiago Roncagliolo has written a very sassy, funny and touching short story collection about relationships and communication.

Hollywood's Latin lovers: Latino, Italian and French Men Who Make the Screen Smolder
Thomas, Victoria, 1956-

Mexican American Baseball in Los Angeles
Balderrama, Francisco E.

"Latino baseball flourished in Southern California from the early 1900s to the 1970s. It was a popular sport, but it was also something more. Latino baseball leagues helped create a cohesive and vibrant Latino community and they were a source of community pride. The games became a place for meetings across the region and were integral to discussion and eventually political organization within the communities." Photographs and narrative provide a vivid history.

Most Scandalous Woman: Magda Portal and the Dream of Revolution in Peru
Wallace Fuentes, Myrna Ivonne,

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide
Quintero, Isabel

Isabel Quintero's graphic novel biography of Graciela Iturbide will appeal to all ages. Quintero interviewed the 76-year-old photographer whose pioneering work in photographing indigenous cultures is as remarkable as her own life. 

The Sagrada Familia: The Astonishing Story of Gaudi's Unfinished Masterpiece
Van Hensbergen, Gijs,

An exploration and analysis of Antoni Gaudi's iconic architectural masterpiece, the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona. The church is well known for its sensual design, having survived world wars and a civil war, years of economic deprivation, and not being completed for over 100 years. 

Violet Isle
Webb, Alex, 1952- photographer.

Because of its vividly colored soil, Cuba is known as the violet isle. Photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb capture the gritty street life and wild and domestic animals. Pico Iyer's essay is poetic and informative.

"I'm Not Gonna Die in This Damn Place": Manliness, Identity, and Survival of the Mexican American Vietnam Prisoners of War
Coronado, Juan David,

During the late 1960s there were two main conflicts for the United States: the battle for civil rights and the Vietnam War. This new book gives voice to the Chicano experience in the war and as POWs.

Additional Local and National Resources