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From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 of each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. The achievements of these Hispanic Americans touch every community and are found in every sector of our nation. 

According to newly released U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, the U.S. Hispanic population reached a record of 60.6 million in 2019, up 930,000 over the previous year and up from 50.7 million in 2010 (18.3 percent of the U.S. population). 

There are approximately 5.8 million Hispanics — or about 27 percent of the state’s population — living in Florida. 

As this segment of the population continues to grow, we must ref lect upon and celebrate the bravery and hard work of those individuals, who built a better and more tolerant future for all of us. 

In addition to the major figures in Hispanic American history who have helped shape the United States, countless pioneers in Florida have been equally as important and should be recognized as agents of change in our state. 

Today, Florida’s first Hispanic female Lt. Gov. Jeanette M. Nuñez, and only the third female to hold that office, is an integral partner with Gov. Ron DeSantis in leading the Sunshine State forward. 

Her efforts are an inspiration to all Floridians, and I would encourage your readers to take a look at her leadership in the areas of health care, cybersecurity and economic prosperity. 

The appointment of Justice Raoul G. Cantero III, the first Hispanic American appointed to the Florida Supreme Court, and Jorge Labarga, sworn in as Florida’s 56th chief justice and the first person of Hispanic descent to lead the state’s judicial branch, have paved the way for countless young Hispanic lawyers who might not have had the chance to practice law and reach all levels of the state’s judiciary. 

Today’s Hispanic Americans have much to celebrate and build upon, as they honor those who have gone before them. 

As we acknowledge and celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, we are given the opportunity to recognize the many ways Hispanics have enriched Florida’s communities, culture and history. 

— Mario Garza is chair of the Florida Commission on Human Relations. 


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