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Hispanic History Milestones: Timeline

September 14, 2020 in History

By History.com Editors

The American Hispanic/Latinx history is a rich, diverse and long one, with immigrants, refugees and Spanish-speaking or indigenous people living in the United States since long before the nation was established.

And, bringing with them traditions and culture from Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other Latin American and Iberian nations, America’s Hispanic population continues to grow, reaching a record 60.6 million in 2019, or 18 percent of the U.S. population.

From early Spanish colonialism to civil and worker rights laws to famous firsts to recent Supreme Court decisions on immigration, here’s a timeline of notable events in U.S. Hispanic and Latinx history.

Early Spanish Explorers Reach America

April 2, 1513
Searching for the “Fountain of Youth,” Spanish explorer . In the case, the family of Sylvia Mendez, then 9, and others sued four school districts for being denied entrance to Westminster Elementary School because they were Mexican. The ruling sets precedent for the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case seven years later.

READ MORE: The Mendez Family Fought School Segregation 8 Years Before Brown v. Board of Ed

The Mendez Family, Trailblazers Fighting School Segregation (TV-PG; 1:01)

May 3, 1954
In Hernandez v. State of Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Mexican-Americans have equal protection under the law. The important civil rights case centers around Pete Hernandez, a farm worker indicted for murder by an all-anglo grand jury in Jackson County, Texas. His attornies argue discrimination, including the fact that no person of Mexican ancestory had served as juror in the county in 25 years, citing the 14th Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agrees, holding that the amendment protects those beyond “white” or “negro,” also covering those of Mexican ancestry.

June 9, 1954
President Dwight D. Eisenhower institutes “Operation Wetback,” a controversial mass deportation using a racial slur, in which the government rounds up more than 1 million people. Blaming illegal immigrants for low wages, the raids start in California and Arizona, and, according to a publication in the U.S. House of Representatives archives, disrupt agriculture. Funding runs out after a few months, bringing the operation to an end.

READ MORE: The Largest Mass Deportation in US History

Feb. 13, 1959
A plane carrying musicians Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and “The Big Bopper” J.P. Richardson crashes near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing everyone on board. Valens, who was just …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano: The History Behind the Terms

September 14, 2020 in History

By Yara Simón

The effort to coin a term to describe a wildly diverse group of Americans has long stirred controversy.

The terms Latino, Hispanic and Latinx are often used interchangeably to describe a group that makes up about 18 percent of the U.S. population. While it’s now common to use umbrella terms to categorize those with ties to more than 20 Latin American countries, these words haven’t always fostered a sense of community among the people they’re supposed to describe.

Before activists, the media and government officials worked to group these identities into one, they were seen as separate. Puerto Ricans and Mexicans, for example, lived in different parts of the country and had their own distinct political and cultural identities.

Yet, as long as there have been people from Latin American countries living in the United States, there have been words to describe them. Some have fallen out of favor, while others have evolved. And many of them have a history as complicated as trying to unify multiple nationalities under one banner.

‘Hispanic’ Helps Unify Communities, Agenda

The first time the federal government used the word Hispanic in a census was 1980. The appearance of the term was borne from decades of lobbying. “It took the debates of the 1970s, the protests of the late 1960s to get us to 1980,” explains G. Cristina Mora, a sociology professor at UC Berkeley and author of Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats, and Media Constructed a New American.

Before 1980, those of Latin American descent were considered Spanish-speaking, having Spanish origin or white on the census. The latter frustrated Mexican-American activists because they had no data to prove that their communities needed resources for programs, such as job training. The National Council of La Raza, known today as UnidosUS, led in lobbying the Census Bureau to change the way it categorized Latinos and uniting Puerto Ricans and Mexicans to “hammer out a Hispanic agenda.”

“In the late 1960s and early 1970s as people in the Census Bureau and bureaucrats in the Nixon administration were thinking about what this new group would be called, Hispanic became a term that people thought would probably be well-known because it was linked to hispano,” Mora says. “But Hispanic was helpful because it seemed more American.”

Grace Flores-Hughes, who claims to have come up with the term Hispanic for the Census, pictured at her Alexandria …read more

Source: HISTORY