By Dr. Carlos Smith, director of diversity, equity and inclusion at the VCU School of Dentistry [View Image]
National Hispanic Heritage Month, or Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, is annually celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 in the U.S. in an effort to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of celebrates the culture and contributions of Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean.
Hispanic Heritage Month began as Hispanic Heritage Week and was established by legislation signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. In 1988, the commemorative week was expanded to a month signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. Hispanic Heritage Month — like its shorter precursor — always starts on Sept. 15, a historically significant day marking the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The designated period is also a nod to those from Mexico and Chile, which celebrate their independence Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
Latinos have long been making important contributions to the nation’s health care, going back as early as the 1500s with Francisco Bravo authoring the first medical book published on the American continent. In the 1800s, Dr. Carlos Juan Finlay made the important discovery linking yellow fever to mosquitos.
The Hispanic Dental Association, founded in 1990, has as its mission: “As the leading voice for Hispanic Oral Health, we provide service, education-research, advocacy, and leadership for all healthcare professionals, to promote overall health of the Hispanic/Latinx and underrepresented communities.”
In celebration of Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month, we will continue our virtual conversation series: Diversity Dialogues – Honoring our past, celebrating our present and ensuring an equitable and inclusive future.
Please join us on Tuesday September 28th at 5:15pm for a conversation with Dr. Isabel Garcia, a VCU School of Dentistry alumna of the class of 1980,and the Dean of the University of Florida College of Dentistry. Register directly via Zoom Webinar here.