by Danny Turkel, Digital Coordinator, National Council of La Raza
Today marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual celebration, which runs through October 15, highlighting the accomplishments and progress of Latinos in the United States.
Already the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the country, the Latino population is expected to more than double in the next 45 years. From pop culture to politics, their growing influence and significant cultural contributions to our society have been felt across the country, with Hispanics making an impact in fields as diverse as the community itself.
Recently, we’ve seen the first Hispanic inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, who read his poem “One Today” at the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Ronda Rousey, who is of Venezuelan descent, has electrified the sports world with her aggressive fighting technique and undefeated record. And thanks to the $1 Trillion dollars in spending power that Latinos hold, we are quickly seeing an increased amount of entertainment geared and marketed towards Latinos.
In the political arena, Latinos are asserting their power in all three branches of government, and on both sides of the aisle. Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor became the first Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic heritage. Since then, she has used her seat on the bench to champion civil rights and equality for all Americans. Additionally, 2015 stands out as a landmark year for Hispanics in politics as two Latino candidates, Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, seek to occupy the White House. Twenty-five million Latinos were eligible to vote in 2014 and almost one million Latinos reach voting age each year. Courting the Hispanic vote will only become more vital for candidates in 2016 as the political impact of Hispanic voters grows.
The Latino community in the United States is experiencing more opportunity and growth than ever before. However, the work to advance our community is nowhere near complete. We are at a critical point where Latinos have the opportunity to make their voice heard and show what we can achieve as a community. We must celebrate our shared heritage and allow it to drive us towards our common goals.
This Hispanic Heritage Month, NCLR will be highlighting the contributions of Latinos to the United States, as well as the issues they face in their daily lives. The Latino community is facing increased uncertainty and scrutiny from all sides. NCLR is committed to making sure all Latinos in the United States are able to harness the American Dream and we will not stop working until that dream is a reality.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month to our entire familia.