February: African American History Month
African-American historian, Carter G. Woodson, established Black History Week in 1926 to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of people of African descent to the United States. The inaugural celebration was on February 12, 1926. In conjunction with the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, the week was expanded to a month (Black History Month).
May: Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week was established, in 1978, by a joint congressional resolution. The congressional resolution picked the first 10 days in May to align with two important events in Asian/Pacific American history:
- May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States;
- May 10, 1869, marks the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Chinese workers contributed greatly to the project.
Congress expanded the week long observance to a month-long celebration in 1992.
September 15-October 15: Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month
President Lyndon B. Johnson was authorized by Congress to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week in September 1968. In 1988, the weeklong observance was expanded to a month long celebration (September 15 to October 15). Congress picked September 15 to kick off the celebration because it is the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Furthermore, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
November: American Indian / Alaskan Native Heritage Month
The recognition of the achievements and contributions of American Indian/Alaska Natives to the United States started in 1915 as a result of the annual meeting of the Congress of the American Indian Association. The recognition of the achievements and contributions added to the previous work by Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and a renowned anthropologist, historian and author. In the following years, various states initiated days of commemorations at different points throughout the year. However, in 1990, the White House issued a joint resolution which designated November as National American Indian Heritage Month.
Last Updated: 04/09/2013