People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Puerto Rican Americans Part 2

About the Puerto Rican Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous Puerto Rican-Americans and more.


Their Story in America: In the 19th century, Puerto Ricans huddled near New York's East River, where they landed. The women, traditionally trained in needlework, found their place in the exploitative garment industry, and the men worked in small cigar-making shops. When migration picked up after W.W.I., Puerto Ricans began settling in East Harlem as Jews and Italians moved out.

Skin color has been a major factor in the American life of Puerto Ricans. Discrimination had already existed on the island--the darkest child occupied the lowest position in the family--but now all shades of Hispanics except the very white found themselves lumped with the blacks at the bottom of the social ladder. Even as recently as 1970, Puerto Ricans in New York had a median income lower than all other groups, including blacks. They have found most of their work in the small sweatshops spawned by the garment industry, in plastic manufacturing, in hotel and restaurant services, and in hospitals as aides and orderlies. New York City's Puerto Ricans represent 25% of the city's public school population but only 4% of the students at the City University of New York. Furthermore, Puerto Ricans have the highest incidence of suicide, drug addiction, and mental illness of all minorities. Now that Puerto Rican militancy is making itself heard, Puerto Ricans are becoming a force to be reckoned with in New York City. Schools are now teaching Spanish as a second language, and Spanish signs hang everywhere. Nearly 43,500 Puerto Ricans fought in the Korean War (one regiment, the 65th, was entirely Puerto Rican), and twice that many served in Vietnam.

Famous Puerto Rican Americans: Academy Award-winning actress Rita Moreno; actor Jose Ferrer; singer and TV personality Tony Orlando; TV commentator Geraldo Rivera; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher John Candaleria; Freddie Prinze, star of TV's Chico and the Man, considered comedy’s boy genius before his suicide; and Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, who, in 1950, attempted to assassinate President Truman.

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