Kansas City Latinos are finding employment in landscaping, distribution centers, and construction. First- and second-generation Latinos create a dynamic community that has become culturally and politically engaged in advancing. However, Kansas City, like other cities with big Latino communities, faces the challenge of defining a unified Latino agenda and going beyond that to exercise statewide and national leadership.
St. Louis, also known as the melting pot city, has a Latino community dating back to the 1920s. The community is substantial but relatively small within St. Louis, amounting to approximately 20,000 Latinos in the inner city and
40,000 in the metropolitan area.6 For the past decades Latinos have ranked economically between the working poor and the middle class. They have established enclaves across the metropolitan areas, and they have formed groups such as the Hispanic Leaders Group of Greater St. Louis, which came to prominence during the early 1990s, and La Cllnica, a public health clinic established in the late 1990s to provide free health care to the Latino community in St. Louis.7 Creating a unified latinidad (Latin-ness) has been difficult, as Latinos in St. Louis are heterogeneous, coming not only from Mexico but from a variety of places in Latin America, including Puerto Rico, Cuba, and South America.