NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) – Governor Bill Lee met with Hispanic and Latino leaders in Tennessee on Monday for a panel discussion on business, life and the American dream. Latinos in Tennessee say time spent with the governor allowed for “substantive conversation” during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The conservative nonprofit group previously presented Governor Lee with its âPremio Libertad Awardâ in August for his commitment to the fight against human trafficking in Tennessee. Monday’s roundtable included Latino leaders from finance, the nonprofit sector and business.
âThe Latino community has a true champion of freedom and opportunity in the Lee government,â Raul Lopez, executive director of Latinos for Tennessee. “By championing the sanctity of life, expanding the choice of schools, and adopting policies that will help grow the economy and create jobs, Governor Lee is helping Tennessee’s Latino community thrive and to live his version of the American dream. “
Data from the 2020 US Census Bureau indicates that Tennessee’s total Hispanic and Latino population is approximately 6.9%. In some counties in eastern Tennessee, US Census data shows that there are caches of Hispanic and Latino populations contributing to their local economies:
- Knox – 6% Hispanic / Latino
- Hamblen – 14.7% Hispanic / Latino
- Loudon – 9.8% Hispanic / Latino
- Sevier – 8.8% Hispanic / Latino
- Hamilton – 7.4% Hispanic / Latino
- Rhea – 6% Hispanic / Latino
- Jefferson – 4.4% Hispanic / Latino
- Blount – 4.2% Hispanic / Latino
- Monroe – 4.2% Hispanic / Latino
- McMinn – 4.1% Hispanic / Latino
Census data also indicates that Hispanics and Latinos make up some of the largest shares of workers in the state’s major industries like agriculture, construction, and services – which is also reflected nationally.
Governor Lee tweeted of meeting with the Latinos for Tennessee group on Monday, saying the discussion took place “as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and recognize all these Tennessee are doing to make our state thrive.”
Governor Lee’s Office has not yet issued a proclamation officially recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month in Tennessee. Currently, the last time a Tennessee governor issued a proclamation recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month was under the leadership of former Governor Bill Haslam. Lee’s reunion with the Tennessee Latinos on Monday drew praise from the group.
âToday’s discussion has been incredibly inspiring. Latino entrepreneurs, professionals, and justice and life advocates were able to have a meaningful conversation with Governor Lee and his team, âsaid Lopez, director of Latinos for Tennessee. “On behalf of everyone at Latinos for Tennessee, we thank Governor Lee for taking our meeting and being a true champion of freedom.”
Don’t miss our next Hispanic Heritage Month special on WATE 6 On Your Side which takes place on Sunday, October 10 at 5:30 p.m.