Census Reveals Hispanic Population Growth In Tulsa

Tuesday, March 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma's census numbers are in and the state's population has grown almost 10% in the last decade. A good portion of that growth is due to an explosion in the Hispanic population.

KOTV's Sean Mossman says Tulsa Hispanic community is increasing dramatically. We now have more than twice as many Hispanics in Oklahoma than we did in 1990. The American dream is alive and well and thriving in the Sooner State.

Fidel Sanchez is a leader and role model for many of Tulsa's Hispanic citizens. Fifteen years ago he was raking leaves and knew only two English words. Now he's a businessman, fluent in English, and pastors a Spanish-speaking church. He says he's seen life for Hispanics change a lot since he immigrated. "Drastically, because when I was living in Broken Arrow it was not many Spanish people. And now I see everywhere." When Fidel opened his Barber Shop in this east Tulsa mall, he had only one neighbor. Now almost every shop is filled with businesses tailored to the growing Hispanic community.

Businesses like the mexican bakery owned by the Anaya Family. Katia, Pancho and their three children moved to Tulsa three years ago. "In Tulsa there is much work and it's friendly. It's a friendly city, friendly town." The Anaya's say they've encountered very little racism since moving to Tulsa. The kids all go to public schools and speak English very well. They live a typical, middle class, urban life, far different from many of our perceptions of Hispanic immigrants.

There are still many farm and other labor jobs. Vernon Conrad has about twenty Hispanics that work on his locally famous farm. But, they've all been with him for many, many years, and Conrad's seen their children take advantage of the opportunities Tulsa affords them. "It has changed. You'll find them everywhere. One of our former employees works at the bank now and another works at city hall."

With the enormously growing numbers of Hispanics in Tulsa, there is a premium on bi-lingual employees. A role that many of these new immigrants and their children are eager to fill.

Tulsa County has the second highest Hispanic population in the state, following only Oklahoma County. Tulsa's 33,000 Hispanics make up about 6% of the counties total population.