Hispanic Heritage month runs from September 15 through October 15 and is a period dedicated to the celebration of the Latino and Hispanic cultures of Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Spain.
By Mara Alonso
As Hispanic Heritage month winds down to an end, here are five things to know about the Latino population in the United States:
- How many Latinos are there in the U.S?
According to the United States Census Bureau, there are 56.6 million people of Hispanic or Latino origin in the U.S. as of July 1, 2015. The largest Latino population in the U.S. is of Mexican origin, which makes up about 64% of the Latino population. The Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area in California has the largest Latino population, with 5.8 million Latinos living there in 2011. Not far behind is the New York and New Jersey area, which is home to 4.3 million Latinos.
- Civil Rights Efforts during the 1960s by the Brown Berets and the Young Lords Party
The 1960s was a time period of social justice reforms and civil rights movements among the communities of color in the U.S. Working beside the Black Panthers, the Brown Berets, a Chicano organization fighting for the civil rights of Mexican-Americans, and the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican nationalist group fighting against the oppression faced by Puerto Ricans in the U.S, rallied against social injustices targeting Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Latinos alike. The efforts of these groups to combat racial discrimination, lack of educational opportunities, and unfair politics have paved the way for Latino civil rights and continuous ethic pride among Latinos in the U.S.
- Latinos Enrolled in College
The education completion rates of Latinos in the U.S. have fluctuated over the past decade. In 2014, the Latino high school dropout rates reached a new low of 10.6% down from 33.4% in 1990. More Latinos are going to college than ever before, with 3 million Latinos enrolled in undergraduate programs out of the 17.3 million people who enrolled in 2014, an increase of 119% compared to the 1.9 million Latinos who enrolled in 2000. As more Latinos go to college, the greater chance of influential Latino leaders.
- How Latinos Influence Voting
With election day approaching on November 8, there is no doubt that every vote is going to count to determine the outcomes of the race. As projected by Pew Research Center, only 40% of the Latino population voted in the 2012 presidential election, but with many millennials turning 18, the number of Latinos eligible to vote has increased from 19.5 million in 2008 to 27.3 million in 2016, and candidates can only hope that Latinos go out and vote. According to research conducted by American University, the Latino population has primarily voted for the Democratic Party in presidential elections since 1960 and this trend is likely to continue, due to disconnections Latinos have with the Republican Party’s composition. As for the issues the Latino population are concerned about, the economy makes it to the top of the list, with immigration, health care, terrorism, and education following close behind.
- Latinos at Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Rutgers University-New Brunswick is home to over 40,000 students from more than 115 countries and from all across the U.S. Out of its full time, student body population, 11% are of Latino origin, which totals to about 4,400 students. Although the amount is not large, the Latino community has grown since Rutgers desegregated their campuses. After the protests and sit-ins of 16 Education Opportunity Fund students in 1970, the Program in Puerto Rican Studies was established, which is now, the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies. In 1992, through the efforts of Latino faculty and students, Rutgers introduced its own cultural center dedicated to the Latino population on campus called the Center for Latino Arts and Culture. The CLAC is now the focus of providing resources and connecting the Latino community at Rutgers to students of all cultures and ethnicities.