LATINO VOICES

5 Ways U.S. History Is More Latino Than We Think

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO- APRIL 26: Stone walls surround the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro April 26, 2004 in Old San Juan, th
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO- APRIL 26: Stone walls surround the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro April 26, 2004 in Old San Juan, the original capital city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Begun in the early 16th century, El Morro was the city's primary protection against sea attacks.The old city is a historic district of seven square blocks made up of ancient buildings and colonial homes, massive stone walls and vast fortifications, sunny parks and cobblestoned streets. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The idea for historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto's new book came from a chance encounter while on the lecture circuit in 2007. The Notre Dame professor was in Colorado Springs, delivering a speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy, when one instructor mentioned that he wanted the U.S. to be welcoming to immigrants. The instructor also said: “people who come here must learn the native language.”

“I quite agree,” said Fernández-Armesto. “Everyone should learn Spanish.” The Air Force instructor seemed surprised, so Fernández-Armesto reminded him that “Colorado” itself is a Spanish word.

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