ONEIDA, Tenn. (WATE) — Governor Bill Lee said Thursday during a visit to Scott County that while he has met with Hispanic and Latino leaders to discuss issues in Tennessee, his office has no plans to issue a proclamation for Hispanic Heritage Month. The national month recognizing the history, culture and contributions of Hispanics and Latinx in the United States runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15.
“The specifics about a declaration, we don’t have plans for that,” Lee said. “Just last week, I met with a group of Hispanic leaders from all across the state to talk about the unique population, how we can serve all Tennesseans of every ethnic group, of every minority group – but particularly focused on Hispanic Tennesseans that are contributors to our society in major ways and have been historically.”
Last week, Gov. Lee tweeted about his meeting with the Latinos for Tennessee group, saying that the discussion came “as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and recognize all that these Tennesseans do to make our state flourish.”
On Thursday, when asked about what came of that Oct. 4 meeting, Lee said they talked about economic opportunity among the Hispanic community, religious liberty, security, safety and crime and how his office and the Latinos for Tennessee group can work together to bring about some initiatives.
The governor added, “We celebrate every Tennessean and their history and their past, and proud to do that for all groups all across the state.”
Governor Lee’s office hasn’t issued a proclamation formally recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month in Tennessee. The last time a Tennessee governor issued a proclamation recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month was under former Gov. Bill Haslam in 2014.
Lee concluded that the dialogue with Latinos for Tennessee highlighted that their concerns were reflective of others’ concerns in the state, “I think things that every Tennessean has concerns about – the uniqueness to that community, there are some unique aspects that are with that community, but it’s the same things most Tennesseans want.”
Data from the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau indicates that Tennessee’s total Hispanic and Latino population is around 6.9%. Census data also indicates Hispanics and Latinos make up some of the larger shares of workers within the state’s top industries like agriculture, construction and services – which is also reflected nationally.