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Department of State

New Jersey Historical Commission

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Secretary
Ellis Island

Understanding Communities

Immigration is embedded in the foundation of our nation and population shifts continue to be a part of our history. Using data from the US Census, Reach Advisors reported in a December 2014 monthly memo that the country’s population is slowly shifting toward a “majority minority” composition in which no one race or ethnicity is in the majority. Reach also reported that in 2020 the non-Hispanic and Latino white population is expected to peak at 199 million, and by 2060 the non-Hispanic and Latino population is projected to make up 44% of the US population.

A September 2018 article in InsiderNJ ranked the Garden State the fourth most ethnically diverse state in the nation. Like the nation, New Jersey’s second largest and fastest growing population is Hispanic and Latino. Census data from 2018 indicates that while the majority of New Jersey’s population is largely white (68%), the second largest and fastest growing group is Hispanic and Latino (19.3%). New Jersey’s demographics present an opportunity to celebrate heritage, foster an appreciation of different ethnicities, and ensure that diverse communities are reflected in state history. Last fall the New Jersey Historical Commission launched its Understanding Communities initiative as a part of its work to document and share the history of all of New Jersey’s people. The Commission called upon several partners and engaged Randi Korn and Associates to conduct four focus groups with the Latino and Hispanic communities in the northern, central, and southern regions of the state. The Commission is very pleased to offer this report to the cultural community and we hope that it will provide useful information about connecting with diverse audiences. Our next step is to continue the conversation with the Latino and Hispanic focus group participants by offering informal gatherings with our partners. At the same time we are planning to conduct a new round of focus groups with other diverse communities in New Jersey and share the findings.   

The New Jersey Historical Commission is grateful to its partners whose insight and connections with communities were invaluable. 

Cumberland County Cultural and Heritage Commission
Middlesex County Office of Arts and History (Folklife Center)
Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development
Passaic County Cultural and Heritage Council (Folklife Center)
Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission (This report is will be available shortly.)


Download the Understanding Communities Study



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