Hispanic americans

   Hispanic Americans were the more than 2 million Spanish-speaking Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other people from Latin America living in the United States in 1930. The largest group was the Mexican American population, mainly concentrated in the southwest, while Puerto Ricans were located primarily in New York City. Long welcomed as a source of cheap agricultural labor but despised for their ethnic difference, during the Great Depression they faced increasing resentment from poor or unemployed white Americans. Many Mexican laborers were displaced by the “Okies,” and approximately 500,000 of them returned to Mexico either voluntarily or as a result of expulsion by local officials. Those who remained worked for meager wages, and when they attempted to organize to protest in strikes in California in 1935 and 1936, they were easily defeated by the powerful fruit growers’ and farmers’ organizations.
   Large numbers of Mexican Americans, displaced from the land, moved to cities looking for work, particularly Los Angeles. During World War II, this urban population increased as new workers, “braceros,” were imported to work on the land. In Los Angeles, ethnic tension focused on Mexican youths wearing “zoot suits,” and in June 1943 they were subjected to physical attacks by resentful white servicemen. Despite the discrimination, some 350,000 Mexican Americans served in the armed forces, and a disproportionate number won awards for their courage. More than 50,000 Puerto Ricans also served in the military, the majority either in the Puerto Rico National Guard or in the predominantly Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment. During the war, the number of Puerto Ricans living on mainland America rose, and by 1950 this number had risen from about 70,000 in 1940 to 300,000. Like Mexican Americans, they too suffered discrimination and segregation, most living in the barrio of East Harlem in New York City.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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