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National Media Covers Diversity in the Heartland

Most news stories that cover diversity issues focus on our major urban centers. It may come as a surprise to city dwellers, and those considering a move away from our crowded cities, that rural areas are also being transformed by dramatic demographic shifts.

In October 1995, The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article on the changing demographics of small town America. Focusing on Worthington, Minnesota, it pointed out that, "virtually all white a decade ago," in just five years the population has become "20 percent immigrants, mostly Mexicans, Laotians, Vietnamese, Sudanese, and Ethiopians."

It is a growing phenomenon in small towns everywhere including in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Georgia. The article points out that today's immigrants are from "vastly different racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds" than the "white, European, and Christian" immigrants who came to America in the nineteenth century.

The article cites Calvin Beale, a senior demographer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who states, "The number of Asian immigrants living in small towns has jumped 42 percent to more than six hundred thousand, and the number of Hispanics has increased 23 percent to more than three million." Beale points out that this phenomena is leading to "a permanent change in the ethnic composition of many small communities."

From "America's Heartland Turns to Hot Location For the Melting Pot," The Wall Street Journal, 31 October 1995.

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