As the Latino population continues to increase every year in PA, reaching almost one million as of 2019, it becomes clearer that there is a lack of spaces where people are able to have their voices and concerns about the Latin community be heard. The Pennsylvania Latino Convention (PALC) has shown their continued commitment to filling this void.
In the 1990s Lillian Escobar-Haskins created the first ever PA-Latino Conference which dissipated over the years. Inspired by her legacy, the annual Pennsylsania Latino Convention known today was formed.
The convention’s mission is to promote Latino/Hispanic achievements, prepare the community for local, state, national and global competitiveness by fostering excellence, and ensure equality in all aspects of Pennsylvania’s shared prosperity and responsibility (PALC, 2019).
The Latino community of PA is at the edge of reaching one million – a historic milestone in our state. [The convention was] created to serve as a bridge for educational, health, housing, employment, and economic advancements in Latino communities throughout PA using data, research and policy for measurable outcomes and community progress.Said PALC Chairman Norman Bristol Colón
Tackling the Real Issues of the Community
The increase of the Latino population may be most noticeable in cities like Philadelphia but Western PA should not be neglected, as of 2019 Latinos relocated to Allegheny County at twice the national rate. This influx of people requires more responsibility from the state to focus on the real issues affecting the communities. According to the PALC, these issues include –
- postsecondary education
- responsible economic development in latino communities
- workforce development health & mental health
- civil rights
- the media
The PALC recommends that the minimum wage in PA be increased, school funding for Latinos as well as African Americans should be higher than it has been, and that colleges and universities should hire more diverse staff.
In order to decrease the effects of gentrification, counties and cities need to involve Latino community-based organizations into the development of its overall regional housing strategy.
Health concerns involve the overall lack of Latino healthcare professionals across the state and members of the Latino community’s limited access to health insurance. Another initiative of the PALC executive committee is The Pennsylvania Hispanic College Fair that gives Latino/Hispanic High School students the opportunity to be recruited by participating colleges and universities. To view the entire list of PALC’s recommendations and initiatives regarding all issues read the full report here.
Preparing for the Future
In 2020, the 3rd annual Pennsylvania Latino Convention may look significantly different from that of the past 2 years due to Covid-19, but the importance of community attendance is greater than ever.
The digital conference presented by Highmark will live stream on Facebook and other social media platforms on October 29 -30 and will address health, education, business leadership, politics, and the young latinx community.
As the newest and ever growing community in the state of Pennsylvania, the Latino community contributes to the overall success of the state. From now on the members of the community should not only be recognized for their unique voices but as simply, Pennyslvanians.
Written for PRESENTE by Rebecca Hansborough.