By Thania Requeno
Montgomery College’s own Professor Jorge Hernandez-Fujigaki, a historian, participated February 25th in the 25th anniversary celebration of the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington DC. As part of the celebration, Professor Hernandez-Fujigaki presented his book, Latinos in the Washington DC Area, which he co-authored.
In his presentation, Hernandez-Fujigaki stated the three largest Latino origins in the Washington, DC area are: Salvadorians, Mexicans, and Guatemalans.
His presentations included many interesting statistics and facts that are also mentioned in his book. “Immigrants have more mobility than the people in their homelands,” said Hernandez-Fujigaki. He is a Mexican immigrant and shared that Latinos in their homelands tend to remain “stuck.”
He then asked the audience a captivating question, “how do you measure success?”
“By degrees, by income, by titles…” or “by where you come from?”
He then continued with an account on Latino individuals who immigrated to the Washington DC area that basically started at the bottom and are now on the top, economically speaking.
Some mentioned were:
• Walter Tejada, who became Vice Chairman to the Arlington County Board, but used to polish shoes in supermarkets in his country El Salvador.
• Ana Sol Gutierrez who was the first Latina to be elected to serve in the Maryland General Assembly, Gustavo Torres, Dr. Alvaro Molina Cruz, Carlos Castro, Jaime Contreras, and many more.
The presentation was concluded with a question and answer segment. Hernandez-Fujigaki was asked why he shares a Japanese last name. He responded as a true historian, “in 1907, my Japanese grandpa immigrated to the Americas but they were not allowing immigrants to cross into North America so he was stranded in Mexico and later moved to its capital where he fell in love with his Mexican wife.”
Hernandez-Fujigaki was also asked if he believed the United States would ever see a Latino president.
He responded as a true Latino, “It is only a matter of years that a Latino will be U.S president because it will be in his genes!”
Dr. Hernandez-Fujigaki holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. He has taught college-level courses in the fields of U.S. History, Latin American and Latino History at several American universities — Northeastern Illinois University, Wayne State University and Michigan State University. He joined MC three years ago, where he teaches courses on U.S. history, Afro-American history and Latin American history at the Rockville campus.