Hispanic Heritage Week: It took awhile

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It took 403 years after immigrants from Spain first settled in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565 for the United States to proclaim Hispanic Heritage Week as an official annual national celebration.

In 1968, at the behest of Congress, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the commemorative event, which was extended to a full month — from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 — 20 years later.

With deep roots in the Great Society and some successful campaigns to insert Latinos into presidential politics, the initiative differed from most others at the time by establishing an annual celebration, not a one-time event.

Co-sponsors of the Congressional Joint Resolution were predictably liberal for the most part. They included Edward R. Roybal of California and Henry B. González of Texas.

Also among them was George H. W. Bush, the current president’s father. The elder Bush was in the forefront of the Republican Party’s outreach efforts to Mexican Americans.

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