Tucson Ward 5
Each year the United States honors the contributions that Latinos have made to our great country with Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs until October 15.
Despite all the negativity in our country today during this election cycle, the Latino community has a rich heritage of educational innovation and achievement. The Spanish established two universities in Lima and Mexico in 1541, and a total of seven universities in the new world before Harvard opened its doors. Latinos made tremendous contributions in art, music, science and literature during the renaissance period.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to reflect on what makes Latinos such a strong, contributing force in America.
We reflect on the history of our people who were part of this land long before the birth of the United States. Latinos were among the earliest European settlers in the New World, and Latinos as a people, like their many cultures, share a rich history and great diversity.
Latino Americans have roots in Europe, Africa and South and Central America, and close cultural ties to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Spain. This diversity has brought variety and richness to the mosaic that is America and has strengthened our national character with invaluable perspective experience and values.
Through the years, Latin Americans have played an integral role in our Nation’s success in science, the arts, business, military service, government and every other field of endeavor and their talent, creativity, and achievement continue to energize our national life.
Latinos have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their commitment to family, faith, hard work and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.
The United States is a country made of, and made for, immigrants. But the Latinos have been in this area for thousands of years. And to say our culture has little impact on our community, would be a major understatement. Our culture has taken the country by storm. You can see Latino influence on culture from here to New York but we think very little of it.
With over 50 million Latinos across the United States, Latinos now make up the largest minority group and represent billions in buying power. Latinos also represent the fastest growing segment of the American electorate.
In Arizona, Raul Castro served as our first Latino Governor in the 1970’s. In 1991, Ed Pastor was the first Latino elected to represent Arizona in the U.S. Congress. Today there are two Latinos in Congress representing Arizona: Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego.
In Tucson and Pima County, Latinos have sent a strong message by turning out to vote and leading the state in the number of Latinos that have been elected to governing bodies such as the state legislature, Pima County government, the Tucson City Council, Pima Community College governing board and local school districts.
In a recent article in “Inside Tucson Business,” entitled “Hispanics a Key to Tucson’s Rebound,” it discussed the importance of buying power of the Latino Community in Tucson, Pima County and throughout Arizona. It noted, “the Latino impact on the local and national economy and that the purchasing power represents $8 billion per year in Pima County, a number that is expected to increase by 88% in the next decade.” By 2024, Latinos are estimated to spend $14 billion in the Tucson economy, equating to 28 percent of the total market spending.
Take our food for example. In Tucson, I can walk to almost any corner and get a menudo so good, it reminds me of Sundays after church and eating and laughing with the family. The attempted recreation of our gastronomic heritage is sought after all over our country and our city became the first city in the United States to be recognized as a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy.
After eight years, Tucson will have again, non-stop flights to Mexico through Aeromar Airlines.
We have become accustomed to the unique beauty that Latino culture has blessed this little town with, even though we contact the rich heritage every day.
As we reflected on the Latino contributions in this great country, let us not lose sight of where we, as Americans, Arizonans, Tucsonans need to go. We must continue to work together to solve the challenges of today, so our community and our children have a better tomorrow.