Hispanic Heritage Month 2015

What's the Difference Between Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish?

Source: Buzzfeed.com

Hispanic/Latino Americans

The Story of Hispanics In The Americas

Before there was New England, there was New Spain; and before there was Boston, Massachusetts, there was Santa Fe, New Mexico. The teaching of American history emphasizes the founding and growth of the British colonies in North America, their emergence as an independent nation in 1776, and the development of the United States from east to west. This history overlooks the fact that there was significant colonization from the 16th century onward by Spain in what is now the American Southwest. The rich history of the Southwest, from Texas westward to California is excluded from history, until the Mexican War. The history of the American Southwest is that of a Spanish-speaking territory with its own distinctive heritage, culture, and customs. Mexican Americans are the Spanish-speaking citizens of the Mexico who were incorporated into the United States as a result of the U.S.-Mexican War. Other Spanish-speaking settlers that came to the United States hailed from countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico, and smaller numbers are immigrants from Central and South America and from the Dominican Republic. Taken together, these people are called Hispanics, or Latinos. 

Hispanics today form the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the United States, they make up the second largest minority group in the nation, African Americans being the largest. About 60 percent of these Hispanics trace their origin to Mexico. The term Hispanic is not an ethnic description. It refers to native language and to cultural background. Within the group called Hispanics are peoples of diverse ethnic origins. Hispanics do not necessarily regard themselves as a single group because their attachments are to their specific national origin. For many Mexican Americans, their national origin is within the United States if their ancestors lived in the Southwest before the Mexican War. Puerto Ricans enjoy a different status from other Hispanics in that they are citizens of the United States by birth, whether they were born in Puerto Rico or in the United States. All Puerto Ricans were granted citizenship in 1917. (Puerto Rico became a possession of the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War.) 

Although there are Hispanics in most parts of the United States, some areas have especially large concentrations. Eighty-six percent of Mexican Americans make their homes in five Southwestern states: Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. Texas and California account for more than 50 percent of the total Hispanic population in the United States. About two thirds of Puerto Ricans residing in the United States are in the New York City area, including nearby New Jersey. About 60 percent of Cuban Hispanics reside in Florida, with the heaviest concentration in Dade County (Miami). Another 20 percent are in the New York-New Jersey area, particularly in Union City, New Jersey, Illinois also has large numbers of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban Hispanics--mostly in Chicago. There are two basic reasons for Hispanic immigration to the United States: economic opportunity and escape from political persecution.

Source: History-World.org

U.S. Hispanic Population by Origin, 2010

Source: Pew Research Center

Mexican Americans

Today's Mexican Americans are a product of historical development that began more than four centuries ago, when Spain conquered Mexico and made it a colony. Before that the territory was inhabited exclusively by Indians. The Mexican Americans are, therefore, the second oldest component of American society. 

Historical background

1520 to 1809 (the Spanish conquest of what is now Mexico and the United States Southwest until the beginning of the revolt against Spain). It was during these nearly 300 years that the mixing of Spanish and Indian cultures (miscegenation) took place. This ethnic/racial category of people would come to be called Mestizo, and later Mexican. Early in this period, what is now known as the United States Southwest was added to Mexico. Concurrently, at this time the Spanish administration founded one of the oldest city in North America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1610.

1810 to 1848 (the United States Southwest becomes a part of an independent Mexico) The American Southwest developed slowly, largely because of the geographic distance between it and the capital of Mexico City. The Mexican War (1846-1848) ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, in which the United States promised to protect the rights of Mexican Americans in the newly acquired territories of the American Southwest.

Map of Mexico before Mexican - American War

Timeline of the Mexican-American War

Click to view an Interactive Timeline Map of the Mexican - American War (1846-1848)


1849 to 1939 (began an era of Anglo-American assimilation of the new territory in the Southwest United States).  Unfortunately, most of the provisions in Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo were not honored by the United States. Huge tracts of land belonging to Mexicans were taken from them by fraudulent legal means or by outright theft. Violence was perpetrated against them, and there was a great deal of economic exploitation. The Mexican Americans of the Southwest were gradually overwhelmed of the vast numbers by Anglos, a term used by Mexicans to describe all white non-Mexican Americans newcomers from the East. Massive immigration from Mexico into the United States followed beginning in 1910. The early decades of Mexican immigration into the United States was but a part of the much greater migratory trend that included many immigrants from Europe and the Far East. The Mexican immigration continued steadily until the Great Depression of the 1930's. Then, with the collapse of the United States economy, many immigrants were sent back by the United States government to Mexico. From 1910 until 1939, Mexican Americans remained largely unassimilated, rural, poor, and Spanish speaking. They were for the most part forgotten the Americans amid the crises of the depression and World War II. 

1940 to 1989. In the decades since 1940 and especially since 1960, Mexican Americans emerged as a distinct and visible social group in the United States. Partly because of the civil rights movement of the 1960's. Mexican American began to assert themselves and attempted to take what they perceived to be their rightful place in American life. This self-awareness was reinforced by continued migration from Mexico. It was during this period that the Mexican American population shifted from a basically rural to a mostly urban way of life. As a city-dwelling minority they found themselves sharing the problems of the rest of the urban poor: lack of jobs, second-rate housing, and educational difficulties. 

1990 to Present. More than 90 percent of the Mexican Americans living the United States, as well as other Hispanics, were living in or near cities. The Los Angeles-Long Beach area has, after Mexico City, more Mexicans than any other city in the Western Hemisphere. There are also sizable communities in Denver, Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, and New York City. In these and other locations Mexican Americans have begun to seek political and economic power by organizing themselves and registering to vote.

Map of Mexico after the Mexican - American War

Map of Mexico after the Mexican - American War



Legal Immigration

Farm workers who move from place to place following harvests are called migrant, or migratory, workers. In the years after the American Civil War, Mexicans began crossing into Texas to work the cotton harvests. By the end of World War I, they were also working in California on large farms in the Central Valley. Slowly they began to work their way to states farther north as they heard of other crops to be harvested. Many of the migrants returned to Mexico after each season was over, but others stayed to wait for the next season or to look for better-paying jobs. 

During World War II much American manpower was lost to the military forces and to defense work, resulting in shortages of farm workers. In July 1942 the governments of the United States and Mexico negotiated an agreement called the Mexican Farm Labor Supply Program. Unofficially it was called the bracero program. One definition of bracero is "day laborer." This program continued until 1964, nearly 20 years after the war's end, largely at the insistence of employers who benefited from it. During that period it brought ever greater numbers of Mexicans to states as far away as Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Mexican government wanted the program continued because of the large amounts of money the braceros sent back to their families, thereby helping the Mexican economy. The braceros favored the program because of the opportunities it offered compared to those in their homeland. Gradually the program lost support, however, and it was terminated by the United States in December 1964. One advantage of the bracero program was its legality. The United States government kept records of the immigrant workers. After the program ended many undocumented workers kept pouring into the United States, creating the massive problem of illegal aliens. 

Illegal Immigration

The Spanish explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado went northward from Mexico and traveled the Southwest in the years 1540-42. He was looking for the fabled (and nonexistent) Seven Cities of Gold--El Dorado. Since the late 19th century millions of Mexicans have retraced his steps on a similar quest. The border between Mexico and the United States stretches for 1,950 miles (3,140 kilometers) from near Brownsville, Texas, in the east to Tijuana, Mexico-San Diego, California, in the west. It is the longest border in the world separating dire poverty from unparalleled affluence and opportunity. Because Mexico has never been able to develop a working and prosperous economy for all of its citizens, the lure of El Norte (the North) has been powerful. In the mid-1980's nearly half of the population in Mexico was either unemployed or underemployed. This condition provided an even greater motive to head northward. In 1990 there was an estimated 2 million illegal aliens in the United States, and about 55 percent of them were from Mexico. Whether this illegal immigration has proved beneficial or harmful to the United States is uncertain.


Puerto Rican Americans

Residents of Puerto Rico do not consist of a single ethnic group. Like other Hispanics they have inherited a mixture of cultures. Puerto Ricans have lived in the mainland United States since the 1830's. During this time, there was a significant amount of trade between the island of Puerto Rico and New York City.  However, immigration from the island to the United States was not large. By the end of the century there were only about 1,500 Puerto Ricans in all of the United States. 

Historical background

The Spanish-American War changed the status of Puerto Rico (the island) by making it a territory of the United States (mainland). In 1917 the Jones Act gave citizenship to Puerto Ricans, although they had not asked for it. Over the next 23 years several thousand residents moved to the mainland. By 1940 there were nearly 70,000 Puerto Ricans living in the United States, mostly in or near New York City, New York. The great migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States began after World War II, due to economic reasons. Puerto Rico, like Mexico, had never been able to develop a growing economy for its residents. Inexpensive airplane fares between San Juan and New York City made it easy for the Puerto Rican immigrants to more than triple in size by 1950. By 1992 there were about 2.75 million Puerto Ricans living on the mainland, United States.


The earliest Puerto Rican immigrants settled in the East Harlem section of Manhattan, a region they called El Barrio, meaning "the neighborhood."  They rapidly moved into the other four New York City boroughs as well as into upstate New York. In 1970, 64 percent of the Puerto Ricans living on the mainland were located in New York. By 1980 this figure had dropped to 50 percent, and Puerto Rican enclaves had grown in other major cities--particularly Hartford, Connecticut; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and Miami, Florida. 

Patterns of migration fluctuated in relation to economic conditions in the mainland United States and on the island (Puerto Rico). During the 1950's an average of 46,000 islanders moved to the mainland annually. During the 1960's this number dropped to 14,000 because economic conditions had improved on the island. During the 1970's, with worsening economic conditions in the United States, more Puerto Ricans returned to the island than came to the mainland. This is not unusual, as there has always been a two-way migration pattern--especially for those born on the island. Many Puerto Ricans prefer living there to living on the mainland, even if they are not as prosperous. Puerto Rican migration have also been seasonal for migrant workers along the East Coast and in the Midwest. The sugarcane season on the island is in the winter, while harvesting on the mainland is in the late summer and fall. Thus, migrant workers sometimes work the harvests in both places. 

In the 1980's a new wave of migration to the mainland began. This one was significantly different from previous ones. Puerto Rico had entered a state of severe economic decline, brought on in part by the recession in the mainland United States. Unemployment in Puerto Rico averaged more than 20 percent for several years. For those who were employed, the average per-person income was lower than in any on the mainland. Many who lost their jobs in the 1980's were highly educated professional people and government workers. These professionals began to leave the island in great numbers, creating what many called a "brain drain." The island lost some of its most educated residents. Individuals with graduate degrees in professions such as engineering, law, and medicine left the island for jobs on the mainland, and American companies actively recruited new workers from the island. Similar to Mexican immigrants, Puerto Ricans who come to the mainland tend to be young. The median age is about 22. The families also tend to be larger. Compared with non-Hispanic families.

Among Hispanics, Puerto Ricans have been less successful economically than Mexicans or Cubans. The more recent migration, however, may change the success rate and income levels of Puerto Ricans. In the early 1990's more than 40 percent were living below the poverty level. Part of the reason for this lack of success can be traced to lower levels of education and a lack of proficiency in the English language. Bilingual education has not generally succeeded in transforming Hispanics into an English-speaking population. Frequently it is used instead for cultural maintenance for perpetuating Spanish. 

Flags of Latino Nations

Flags of Latino Nations

Cuban Americans

In January 1959 Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, soon after relations with the United States soon began to deteriorate. Castro confiscated property belonging to American companies, announced his intention to incite revolution throughout Latin America, and he established close ties with the Soviet Union. In January 1961, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke diplomatic relations with Cuba. Four months later, in the early months of President John F. Kennedy's administration, about 1,500 anti-Castro Cubans invaded the southwestern coast of Cuba at a place called the Bay of Pigs.

This invasion had been planned by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) with the assistance of a CIA-sponsored paramilitary group of Cubans who hoped that Castro would be easily overthrown. The Bay of Pigs invasion was a complete failure. But it did not end the hopes of Cubans in the United States that Castro's regime would be short-lived and that they would soon be able to return to their homeland. Cubans began coming to the United States as refugees beginning in 1959; the exodus has not ceased since then.  

Source: Wikipedia.org

Historical background

By 1850 Cuba had developed a thriving worldwide market for its cigars. The cigar business created a small middle class. The growth of this class bred a desire for independence from Spain. With the failure of the rebellion called the Ten Years War (1868-78), the Spanish rule became more oppressive. As a result, thousands of Cubans began leaving the island, and most of them headed for Key West in nearby Florida. As Key West prospered, labor unions from the Northern part of the U.S. came and organized the cigar workers. Strikes nearly ruined the economy of the cigar industry in Key West, and the cigar manufacturers looked for a more agreeable place to settle. They chose Tampa, Florida. Vicente Martinez Ybor and associates purchased land near Tampa and set up their cigar businesses. In 1887 Ybor City, as it is now known, was made part of Tampa, and it remains a colorful reminder of its Cuban heritage.  

During the Great Depression, the cigar business worldwide was hard hit. Many Cuban workers left for other parts of the United States, although a substantial core of Cuban Americans remained in Ybor City and nearby.  Today, Little Havana in Miami has the oldest and largest concentration of Cubans as a result of the more recent waves of immigration.  Florida is a natural destination for Cubans, due to geography--only 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Cuba and having a similar climate to Cuba. Furthermore, Cubans settled in Florida rather than in the more industrial North because it offered greater availability of housing and a larger labor market at the time of their arrival.  


The modern migration of Cubans to the United States began in 1959 as Castro's victory seemed imminent. The Cubans that initially came to the United States were not the poorest segments of society, as had been the case with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. They were members of the prosperous middle class--shop owners, business people, and professionals who feared the consequences of a Castro takeover. The first Cubans arrivals were those who fled Cuba to escape persecution. Later arrivals consisted primarily of those who were allowed to leave by the Cuban government. From 1961 to 1970 a total of 256,769 Cuban immigrants were admitted to the United States.

In April 1980, Castro allowed the Peruvian Embassy in Havana to be opened to Cubans who wished to leave the island. Within a few days the number wishing to get away had grown to more than 10,000. This sparked the third and most well-known wave of Cuban emigration into the United States. The Cuban government permitted 125,000 Cubans to board a less than seaworthy fleet of boats in Mariel Harbor, Cuba to set sail to the United States. This wave of Cuban refugees included an estimated 2,700 hardened criminals, “Marielitos,” which made up fewer than 3% of the total permitted to leave Cuba.

The Refugee Act of 1980 drastically reduced the number of Cubans to be allowed into the country. President Jimmy Carter classified the “Marielitos” as entrants with their status pending. These new arrivals were different than the previous Cuban immigrants in that they were mostly young, single, adult males. Only a very small number of them could speak any English, and their educational level was generally lower than that of previous arrivals.  To accommodate these new aliens, President Carter opened processing centers at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and at military bases in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The uncertain status of the “Marielitos” lasted until Oct. 17, 1984, when Congress reenacted the Cuban Refugee Act of 1966. This restored the favorable status Cuban refugees had enjoyed before 1980 and allowed their processing to start within six weeks. By the end of 1985 most of them had received permanent residency status in the United States, which allowed them to apply for citizenship after five years.



Top Regions and Counties in the United States for Hispanics

Top U.S. Countries by Hispanic Origin

Source: Pew Research Center

Hispanic Subgroups

Hispanic subgroups differ in their states, regions and counties of geographic concentration. Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans are largely concentrated in western states, while Cubans, Colombians, Hondurans and Peruvians are largely concentrated in the South. The largest numbers of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Ecuadorians are in the Northeast.

The nation’s Cuban population is the most concentrated. Nearly half (48%) live in one county—Miami-Dade County in Florida. Miami-Dade County is also home to the nation’s largest Colombian, Honduran and Peruvian communities.

For Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans, Los Angeles County in California contains each group’s largest community. Los Angeles County alone contains 9% of the nation’s Hispanic population. Bronx County in New York contains the largest Puerto Rican and Dominican populations. And Queens County in New York contains the largest Ecuadorian population.

Changes 2000 - 2010

From 2000 to 2010 the number of Hispanics were foreign-born declined from 40% in 2000 to 37% in 2010. The number of Hispanics holding U.S. citizenship increased from 71% in 2000 to 74% in 2010. While the number foreign-born Hispanics that acquired U.S. citizenship increased from 28% in 2000 to 29% in 2010. Hispanics have also made gains in terms of their educational attainment increased. Among all Hispanics, the share with a college degree increased from 10% in 2000 to 13% in 2010.

Source: History-World.org

U.S. Hispanic Populations age 25 and older with Bachelors Degree

Source: Pew Research Center

Event Calendar

Tuesday, September 15th from 11 am – 1:30 pm, Setzer Student Center Arbors
Come celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a Tres Leches Cake Eating Contest, games, and music. Sponsored by the Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee

RAINN Day – Sexual Violence Awareness Day
Thursday, September 17th 11 am – 2 pm, Campus Wide
National Sexual Assault Hotline Infocards and drink sleeves in both English and Spanish throughout campus. RAINN Day is an annual day of action to raise awareness and educate students about sexual violence on college campuses.
Sponsored by E.I.A - Education Initiative Association. Sigma Sigma Rho, and Bruised But Not Broken

Salsa Night in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month
Wednesday, September 23rd from 7 pm – 9 pm, Setzer Student Center Ballroom
Come out an experience an night of fellowship, fun and food. We will be featuring three types of Latin dances: Salsa, Merengue and Bachata. The first 100 people will receive FREE Raising Cane's.
Sponsored by Lamar Alive! and Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity

Foosball Competition
Wednesday, September 30th  from 11 am – 4 pm, Quad
A foosball playing field will be created in the Quad and your team becomes the players. A $10 entry fee per team, 6 players per team.
Sponsored by E.I.A – Education Initiative Association and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

Photo Booth and Latino Countries Geography Game
Wednesday, September 30th’ from 11 am – 4 pm, Setzer Student Center Arbor
Show us your best pose at the Delta Xi Nu Photo Booth or test your knowledge of the geography of Latino countries at an interactive game.
Sponsored by Empowerment – Delta Xi Nu Multicultural Sorority

“Noche de la Cultura” (Night of Culture)
Thursday, October 15th from 7 pm – 9 pm, Setzer Student Center Ballroom
Celebrate Hispanic Culture through art, music, dance, and food. The Hispanic Heritage Month Planning committee has gathered performers from the Lamar University Campus and community to offer a full night Hispanic entertainment.
Sponsored by the Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee

Movie Night in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month
Tuesday, October 20th from 7 pm – 9 pm, Science Auditorium
Movie: McFarland, USA (also known as McFarland) is an American 2015 sports drama based on the true story of a 1987 cross country team from a predominantly Mexican-American high school, McFarland High School, in McFarland, California, the film stars Kevin Costner as Jim White, the school's coach, who leads the team to win a state. 


Sponsored by Sigma Delta Pi – NTL Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, Spanish Circle, ALPFA (Association of Latino Professional in Finance and Accounting), and Delta Xi Nu Multicultural Sorority. Lecture by Dr. Elia Hatfield, Professor - English and Modern Languages

“Día de los Muertos Alteras” (Day of the Dead Alters)
Sunday, October 25th – Wednesday, November 4th, ALL DAY, Setzer Student Center Arbors
“Día de Muertos” (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.
Sponsored by the Spanish Circle

Study Abroad Informational Session

Wednesday, October 28th from 3 pm – 4 pm, Setzer Student Center, Room 206

Learn about LU's current and future study abroad programs in Latin America, including spring break, summer, and semester exchange opportunities. See the places where you'll be studying! Your life, your career, your América - it's time to get exploring.

Department of Global Studies and Study Abroad


Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Planning Committee

Flag Hand

“Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”

--Cesar Chavez (American Activist and Labor Organizer. Founder of the National Farm Workers Association; 1927-1993)