West Chester University’s Latina/o Communities Conference Builds Bridges Across Cultures

West Chester University's Latina/o Communities Conference Builds Bridges Across Cultures

WEST CHESTER, PA — Like many events during the pandemic, West Chester University’s 12th Annual WCU Latina/o Communities Conference will be held virtually on Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Zoom links will be available at http://www.wcupa.edu/LatinoConference/.

This annual conference informs the University and broader community about a wide range of issues concerning Latinos in Southeastern Pennsylvania and beyond. This year’s event represents 12 years of working to build and strengthen ties between West Chester University and the Latino community, as signified by the theme “Building Bridges/Construyendo Puentes.”

Hispanics accounted for more than half (52%) of the U.S. population growth (18.9 million) from 2010 to 2019, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, the last before 2020 census figures are released.

Between 2010 and 2019, the Latino population in Pennsylvania jumped by 273,900, while the state’s total population increased by 90,800. Pennsylvania is one of four states that have surpassed 1 million Latinos since 2010 (the others are Georgia, New Mexico, and North Carolina).

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Of the 12 states that now have at least 1 million Hispanics, Pennsylvania saw the fastest Hispanic population growth:  38% from 2010 to 2019. Pennsylvania also shows one of the lowest median ages of Hispanics (28 years) among those 12 states.

Toughkenamon in southern Chester County boasts the state’s greatest concentration of Latina/os (55.29% of the town’s population), followed by Avondale (24.59%). Four more Chester County towns are in the top 25 towns with the highest percentage of Hispanics in the state.

The growing presence of this group with its diverse strengths, skills, and needs, has significantly impacted the social, economic, political, and cultural life of this state and country.

The conference appeals to a broad audience. This past year more than 1,500 people attended, including WCU students, faculty and administrators, community members, and high school students.

This year the conference will offer six panels on a wide range of topics and issues for understanding the Latino community: COVID-19, voting, health and community services, high school education, community activism, and the immigrant experience.

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Five guest speakers will present on three topics:

Doug Swanson, University of Pittsburgh. Author of Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers. A history of more than a century of abuse by the Texas Rangers, used by the white power structure to oppress and terrorize Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and other racial minority populations in Texas.

Gia Del Pino and Lourdes Gonzalez, Colibrí Center for Human Rights. “The Missing and Disappeared Immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border.” A presentation on the status of immigrants arriving from Mexico and the Colibrí Center’s work in solidarity with the immigrants’ families.

Xelena González and Adriana M. García, children’s books author and illustrator. “Circles and Gems.” Discussion of the experiences in the creation and publication of children’s books, including the award-winning picture book All Around Us and the upcoming Where Wonder Grows.

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During the lunch break the Chester County Latino Professionals Luncheon will present scholarship awards to West Chester University and Immaculata students, and Wilmington-based mezzo-soprano Paula Rivera-Dantagnan will provide entertainment.

Post-conference, a link to a virtual tour of the art installation “Dutchirican: A Latinx History of Central Pennsylvania” will be posted on the website for the month of October.

For more information, visit the website or contact Miguel Ceballos: [email protected] or [email protected].

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