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'Immigration became an economic issue' | How Latinos helped Atlanta get Olympic ready

The international competition helped Atlanta become an international city.

Gabriella Nunez

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Published: 7:44 PM EDT September 19, 2022
Updated: 7:44 PM EDT September 19, 2022

From the iconic Fountain of Rings to Turner Field, the legacy of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta is evident in the city's skyline. Still, the impact of the international games can also be seen in Georgia's growing Latino community.

Before Georgia State University got its stadium, Atlanta had Buford Highway. Before an established Centennial Olympic Park, the Latin American Association and Plaza Fiesta were taking shape - some of the first pieces of evidence were when Latinos started to build a community in Atlanta before they built the infrastructure for the Olympics.

"I had seen some data that said there were 100,000 Latinos in Georgia, and we were astonished. I mean, we thought, 'oh my goodness, how could there be that many Latinos here in Atlanta?' former state senator Samuel Zamarripa said, recalling the early 1990s.

"Well, that number became exponential as the decade went on."

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