Growing group reaches out for understanding

Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Winnie Armour (left) and Rachel Rivera watch as their daughters, Nazareth Armour and Zariah Rivera, both 3, ride on swings at Fort Gordon's Latino Fest on Friday.

The Hispanic community consists of people from more than 20 countries, yet many non-Hispanics seem to know very little about one of the fastest-growing groups in America.

In Richmond and Columbia counties alone, Hispanic families make up close to 8,000 households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey.

"There are 45 million legal Latinos in this country. I think a lot of people put us in the same boat," said Pedro Hoyos-Salceda, an Augusta State University associate professor of Spanish. "There is a potpourri. There's doctors, builders, people working for NASA going to the moon. We're not just sticking bricks; we're also saving lives. It's time that the community open their eyes to that."

Members of Augusta's Hispanic community spoke on the misconceptions concerning their culture and the challenge to be recognized as a vital part of a city often colored in black and white.

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

CINCO DE MAYO

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. A Mexican force of 4,500 men faced 6,000 well trained French soldiers. The four-hour battle ended in a victory for the Mexican army under Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza.

BY THE NUMBERS

28.3 million - U.S. residents of Mexican origin in 2006. These residents constituted 9 percent of the nation's total population and 64 percent of the Hispanic population.

1.2 million - People of Mexican descent 25 and older with a bachelor's degree or higher. This includes about 350,000 who have a graduate degree.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006