Missouri Latino Politics
Though Latinos in Missouri have always been concerned with citizenship and labor and civil rights, scholars have failed to acknowledge the presence of Latino activism. The historical record has not fully developed a narrative of Latino politics in the state of Missouri. In recent years, new legislative initiatives have
Board members of the St. Louis Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. Courtesy of Hispanic St. Louis and Joe Bomarrito attracted Latino political activists to the state’s capital. Under the leadership of Representative Deleta Williams and Senator Harold Caskey, the state legislature formed the Joint Interim Committee on Immigration (HCR 10) that met during 1998 and 1999.8 The committee examined, through a series of statewide hearings, the effect of migration on community social services. In 2002 the first annual Hispanic Legislative Day brought Latinos to the state capital to inform legislators of relevant issues, such as bilingual education, wages, and political disenfranchisement. In 2004 Governor Matt Blunt created the Missouri Governors’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs (later known as Hispanic Business, Trade, and Culture Commission) to provide guidance on issues affecting the Latino community.
Statewide, Missouri’s large and small cities and rural counties have seen the growth of the Latino population in their communities. Latinos of all backgrounds have regained a sense of identity through various cultural activities. There are positive forces at work in Missouri: faith-based organizations, multicultural and community-based groups, the charitable dedication and leadership of individual Missourians, and the work of the men and women who work for Missouri’s state universities and government.