Latinos lack unifying figure, historian says

Historians in the News

The days of Cesar Chavez are past. Latinos living in the United States today do not have a national leader, a study released this week by the Pew Hispanic Center concluded....

The reason Latinos lack a national leader, say some experts, is that the Latino community encompasses a wide and diverse spectrum of people. In many cases, Latinos have little in common with each other, other than being lumped into the category of Hispanics, said Neil Foley, an associate professor of history and American studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

"Latinos are a relatively new creation in terms of the label Hispanic or Latino," which was instituted by the U.S. Census in 1980, he said. Mexican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans and other Latin American ethnic groups living in the United States were combined in the category, regardless of their heritage or educational, class, religious and linguistic backgrounds.

Segments of Latinos have their own leaders in different parts of the country, Foley explained....

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