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Mayor declares Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month

T-R FILE PHOTO The Latino community in Marshalltown was honored by the proclamation of the Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month by Mayor Joel Greer on Tuesday. He said Latinos and Hispanics have enriched the town with such events as the annual Festival on First, where this T-R file photo was taken. The festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Latino and Hispanic community of Marshalltown was honored by Mayor Joel Greer on Tuesday as he signed a proclamation declaring Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month.

The proclamation states Iowans of Latino and Hispanic origin make up 6 percent of the state’s population, making it the largest race or ethnic minoritized group in Iowa, and the largest such group in Marshalltown.

“My goal is to heighten the awareness of our diversity and the impact the Hispanics and Latinos have on our town in business, arts, the school district, sports and everything else,” Greer said.

He said there are 50 businesses in Marshalltown owned by people born in other countries and Greer has had to utilize interpreters when meeting some of the owners.

“That is a fair number,” he said.

Greer spoke about Gov. Kim Reynolds learning about and celebrating Black residents of Iowa by declaring June 16 as the official observance of Juneteenth in the state. Juneteenth is the oldest-known celebration of the end of slavery.

Greer wanted to use that example and extend it to Latinos and Hispanics. However, he does not want it to end there.

Through his conversations with leaders of the Hispanic community in Marshalltown, Greer has learned a lot about what they go through. He said he wanted to know what their experiences in town had been.

“They have to work three times as hard as whites in running their businesses, but I should not be the only one hearing this,” Greer said.

He would like to see a diverse group of people of all cultures, genders and ages gathering regularly to talk and learn.

“I would like to get this ball rolling and keep it rolling,” Greer said. “Like with Black Lives Matter, we gave encouragement to not just have a rally and end it. They are keeping the dialogue going. We need more white people to experience what it might be to be Black or brown. I predicted 30 years ago this generation would go to college, come back and make a difference. It is happening, but not fast enough.”

Greer would like to see different ethnicities and ages represented on boards throughout the city, adding that more integration is needed.

“We need to accelerate it,” Greer said.

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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