Hispanic Heritage Month started as a week-long celebration when it was introduced in June 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown. For 20 years, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan issued yearly announcements to set aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans. Later, in 1987, U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed expanding the celebration to a month. The reasoning behind that was that he wanted the country to “properly observe and coordinate the events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievements.”
In 1988, Senator Pual Simon submitted a similar bill successfully passed by Congress and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on August 17th, 1988. In 1989, George W. Bush became the first to announce September 15th - October 15th as Hispanic Heritage Month.
September 15th was chosen as the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month because of its significance as the anniversary of the independence of the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico celebrates its independence day on September 16th, while Chile celebrates theirs on September 18th.