Hispanic inhabitancy in the New World began in 1492 when Columbus arrived under the mandate of Queen Isabella of Spain. 

Spanish exploration and settlement of what is now the state of Florida began in 1513 and expanded across the continent through the Southwest and other regions.  Hispanic presence in this country is evident in the arts, architecture, music, language and cuisine. 

To celebrate the cultural legacy of Hispanics throughout our nation’s history, Congress designated Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. This celebration unifies people residing in the United States who were born or trace their origins to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America – a population that represent various genetic backgrounds and ethnic origins, mostly European, Indian and African. This focus is not just on the past, but on the future as well. 

The Hispanic population is young, with about half under 26.5 years old. Hispanics now comprise the second-largest ethnic group of children in the U.S., behind only to non-Hispanic white children. They are already the second largest ethnic group, after non-Hispanic whites, with a population of almost 60 million, more than the whole population of Canada. 

Here's what we can stand on. 60 million Latinos, and growing, are out there shopping, traveling, banking, studying, raising families. The Latino purchasing power of $1.5 trillion in 2020, the fastest growing in the United States, is greater than the economies of 11 nations, including Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, and Indonesia. 

And as companies struggle with growth, Latinos offer a marketer's dream target audience — young, growing, and underserved. With one-third under the age of 18 and 25 percent in their 20s and 30s, the majority of Latinos are near the peak of their spending years. 

As we become homeowners, we are driving growth in the household goods industry at a time when other groups are cutting back on these purchases. The family focus leads to purchasing for the here and now. Latinos over-index compared to other groups in the purchase of toys, BBQ grills, furniture, and eating out. This is consumerism driven by a worldview of many Latinos that what matters most is today, for who knows what tomorrow will bring.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2018 to 2028, the Hispanic share of the labor forced is projected to increase more than that of any other race or ethnic group, up to 20.9 percent.  From a number’s perspective, companies unsuccessful at sourcing, attracting, and engaging this talent pool will see their talent pipeline shrivel up. 

Hispanics are tasting the fruits of entrepreneurship as well. A report to Congress based on data, Latinos in the United States already account for 2.3 trillion in economic activity in total. Latino-owned businesses employ more than 3 million people.

 We are founding fathers and we are recent immigrants. 

America doesn’t belong to one particular group; it belongs to everyone. And no culture is inherently privileged above others, only predominant or a larger contributor to the American identity. Without making hash of history, we should acknowledge the contributions that all groups have made to the growth and development of the United States. By acknowledging the value and contributions that all peoples have made to our country, we are strengthening our unity. And when we understand that, we are getting closer at making the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” – “Out of many, one” real and meaningful.

Events

Starting Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, KOLR10 and Ozarks Fox will begin a special coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month with stories airing each Friday through Oct. 15, highlighting Hispanic culture both locally and around the country.

Sept. 21, 2020: The founder of Groupo Latinoamericano Yolande Lorge will present about Latinos in the Ozarks at Missouri State University in the Plaster Student Union from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

From Sept. 15-Oct. 15, stop by Wilson's Creek National Battlefield information kiosk to pick up a free booklet to learn more about Hispanic soldiers in the Civil War.