Portal:Hispanic and Latino Americans

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Hispanic and Latino Americans are an ethnolinguistic group of Americans with origins in the countries of Latin America or the Iberian peninsula. More generally it includes all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino. Reflecting especially the Latin American population, which has origins in all the continents and many ancestries, Hispanic/Latino Americans are very racially diverse, and as a result form an ethnic category, rather than a race.

While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, Hispanic is a narrower term and refers mostly to persons of Spanish speaking origin or ancestry, while Latino is more frequently used to refer more generally to anyone of Latin American origin or ancestry, including Brazilians. Hispanic thus includes persons from Spain and Spanish speaking Latin Americans excluding both Portuguese and Brazilians (who speak Portuguese) while Latino excludes persons from Spain but includes both Spanish speaking and Portuguese-speaking Latin Americans. Persons from Portugal, and all other Portuguese-speaking peoples around the World outside the Americas (e.g. Cape Verdeans or Angolans), are neither Hipanic nor Latino. Latino is a broader term encompassing more people. The choice between the terms Latino and Hispanic among those of Spanish speaking origin is also associated with location: persons of Spanish speaking origins residing in the eastern United States tend to prefer the term Hispanic, whereas those in the West tend to prefer Latino.

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Major General Pedro del Valle (second from left) is greeted by Colonel "Chesty" Puller on Pavuvu in late October 1944, while Major General William H. Rupertus (far left) looks on
Hispanic Americans, also referred to as Latinos, fought in every major battle in the European Theatre of World War II in which the armed forces of the United States were involved, from North Africa to the Battle of the Bulge, and in the Pacific Theater of Operations, from Bataan to Okinawa. According to the National World War II Museum, between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, out of a total of 12,000,000, constituting 2.3% to 4.7% of the U.S. Armed Forces. The exact number is unknown as, at the time, Hispanics were not tabulated separately, but were generally included in the general white population census count. Separate statistics were kept for African Americans and Asian Americans.

On December 7, 1941, when the United States officially entered the war, Hispanic Americans were among the many American citizens who joined the ranks of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps as volunteers or through the draft. Not only did Hispanics serve as active combatants in the European and Pacific Theatres of war, but they also served on the home front as civilians. Hundreds of Hispanic women joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), serving as nurses and in administrative positions. Many worked in traditionally male labor jobs in the manufacturing plants that produced munitions and materiel, replacing men who were away at war. (more...)

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Desi Arnaz
image credit: General Artists Corporation


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Sonia Maria Sotomayor /ˈsnjə ˌstmˈjɔr/, Spanish: [ˈsonja sotomaˈʝor]; (born June 25, 1954) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving since August 2009. She is the 111th appointment to the Court, has the distinction of being its first justice of Hispanic heritage, and its third female justice. Sotomayor shares with John Roberts and Elena Kagan being among the youngest justices on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor was born in The Bronx, New York City to Puerto Rican-born parents. Her father died when she was nine, and she was subsequently raised by her mother. Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979, where she was an editor at the Yale Law Journal. She was an advocate for the hiring of Latino faculty at both schools. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York for four and a half years before entering private practice in 1984. She played an active role on the boards of directors for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the State of New York Mortgage Agency, and the New York City Campaign Finance Board. (more...)

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