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Understanding the origins of Milwaukee's south side Latino/Hispanic community

Latinos and Hispanics are the largest minority group in Wisconsin, according to the 2020 US Census Data
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Posted at 6:52 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 15:30:29-04

MILWAUKEE — Sergio Gonzalez educates students of all backgrounds at Marquette University. But he has a unique focus on the south side and the origins of the Latinx community.

"Latinos have lived on the south side of Milwaukee since the 1920s, and they first arrived here as workers, staffing places like the Pfister and Vogel tannery and other factories," said Gonzalez.

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However, it wasn't just factory jobs that kept them specifically on the south side.

"Coincidentally or not, they decided to settle in the same places where they worked. And that was often because that's where they could settle because of racial discrimination and because of economic opportunities," Gonzalez said.

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As time passed, new opportunities came about bringing more Latinos and Hispanics to Wisconsin.

"In the 1950s, anywhere from 10 to 15 thousand Texan, Mexican and Tejano migrant farm workers would come to Wisconsin every single year to work in agricultural fields, and anything that was being grown in our state, you name it, Latino hands were picking it," said Gonzalez.

Hispanics and Latinos are now the state's largest minority group according to the latest US Census data. In the last decade, they have grown by 7.6%, equating to 447,290 Wisconsinites.

"Our state is made so much richer, our cities are made so much richer, our communities are made so much richer by the infusion and arrival of all these different groups."

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