September 15 marks the beginning of Latino/a/x Hispanic Heritage Month (LHHM), a celebration of Latin American people across the United States. As a proud Puerto Rican, this month is especially important to me. Formally recognized under the name National Hispanic Heritage Month, the celebration began as a week-long observation in 1968 and expanded to a 30-day period in 1988. The date of September 15 is significant because it represents the beginning of several independence days of Latin American nations. 

Here at Mass General, we call this celebration Latino/a/x Hispanic Heritage Month (LHHM) to be inclusive of those descended from Latin American countries in addition to those who hail from Spanish-speaking countries. During this month, we celebrate the legacy of Latin American people in the United States, including their history, culture and contributions. LHMM is also an opportunity for discussion and learning, particularly as it relates to the complex history of Latin America, and the relationships with Spain and the United States. 

Our hope is that over the coming weeks, whether through programming at Mass General, Mass General Brigham or in the community, we can have honest, engaging and authentic conversations about the history of Latin America. We aim to educate on the issues that Latin American people face abroad and here in the United States and learn from history to make long-lasting change. And we aspire to bring levity and joy through the celebration of a rich and diverse culture.

Joseph R. Betancourt, MD, MPH
Senior Vice President for Equity & Community Health