Latinos and Hispanics in Oregon, specifically Washington County, have since been viewed as minorities and immigrants.
The Hispanic Heritage and Activism Forum is designed to change this viewpoint by reforming the assumptions about the Hispanic and Latino population of Washington County.
The event, presented by Centro Cultural of Washington County and Pacific University, will take place on Sept. 22 at Pacific.
The Director of Diversity Alfonso Lopez-Vasquez said since the recent census, there is cause to rethink the common perception of the local Hispanic and Latino populations.
The 2012 Statistical Abstract of the United States stated that close to 12 percent of the Oregon population is made up of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Hispanic people.
In Washington County alone, the Hispanic and Latino population is 16 percent.
The Forest Grove School District reported 45.6 percent Hispanic students during the 2010 school year. This is more than any other Washington County district.
With this in mind, Lopez-Vasquez’s vision is simple. He wants to inform the county population that these people are not first generation immigrants or undocumented people, but families who have lived and been a part of the economic development of the county for years.
“With the forum we want to create a comprehensive community awareness of the prominence of Latinos and Hispanics in our community,” said Lopez-Vasquez.
The Oregon Human Development Corporation, Centro Cultural and Oregon Humanities are agencies that are designed to promote equal opportunity for Hispanic and Latino members of Washington County and contributed to the funding of the event. Another sponsor is Portland Community College.
Guest speaker Director of the College Assistance Migrant Program and Chicano Education Program at Eastern Washington University Jerry Garcia specializes in the background of Chicano studies and the movement of Hispanic and Latinos into the Northwest.
“This event is a refuge for advocacy. The second phase of our activism will be to highlight challenging equal opportunity employment, reforming Hispanic and Latino dominant school systems and healthcare opportunities,” said Lopez-Vasquez.
Anyone interested in the forum must pre-register at events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/ or call (503) 359-0446. The event is free, but limited to 175 people.

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