“It’s important that diversity is the hub of Lexington’s growth”

Surveys conducted by CivicLex as part of the 2022 On The Table community conversations provide ideas for improving quality of life for Hispanic and Latino residents in Lexington.

Ruth Brown, Spring 2023

The survey results from On The Table (OTT) 2022  show that access and inclusion matter to Hispanic and Latino residents in our city. A review of comments provided by participants who self-identified as Hispanic/Latino (1) shows that Lexington residents living in neighborhoods with higher distributions of Hispanic and Latino residents, and in particular those in higher density population areas on the northern side of the city, lack access to cultural, social, and economic opportunities. Their suggestions point to an unequal distribution of employment support, green space, meaningful access to affordable food and entertainment, and cultural activities in our city, one in which residents who live in non majority white neighborhoods that are inadequately connected to downtown and the south side via public transportation are excluded from the initiatives and programs that make Lexington a great place to live for many. 

While Hispanic and Latino residents compose only 7.4% of Lexington’s total population (2), their cultural, social, linguistic, and economic contributions can be seen and experienced throughout our city. A review of Census maps from 2000-2020 shows that there are several neighborhoods in our city that feature notable, and at times majority, concentrations of Hispanic residents. The Cardinal Valley and Alexandria neighborhoods on the west side of the city, known by many Lexingtonians for their Hispanic/Latino-owned businesses and services oriented toward Hispanic and Latino communities, feature between 50-61% Hispanic residents in most Census tracts. Yet, various neighborhoods on the north and east side of the city feature higher percentages, for example the East End (up to 73%), Georgetown/Newtown (up to 72%), and Castlewood/Loudon Avenue (up to 70%). Three other areas have equally notable concentrations: Lakeside/Woodhill (up to 50%), Winburn (39%), and Northside (up to 30%). Participants who identify as Hispanic or Latino from each of these neighborhoods completed On The Table surveys (3), and their responses show that regardless of location, these Lexington residents share concerns regarding employment, public transportation, access to activities and cultural events, and recreational green space. 

A. Employment Equity

Comments from survey participants who identified as Hispanic/Latino provide numerous examples of ways that Lexington can better support employment equity. In addition to raising the minimum wage, responses point to a lack of employment education and support, with participants citing a clear need for increased job training opportunities, investment in social and educational programs, and targeted support to marginalized groups and entrepreneurs (4):

  • I’ve struggled a lot with money in Lexington. These jobs don’t pay enough. 
  • …offer more jobs or have more job opportunities in places where minorities live at.
  • Programs to help those with felony charges find work. 
  • More competitive pay, having ways to share with the community about what resources are available.
  • Job equality is needed and subsidies for social services for eligible individuals.
  • Accessible job training, apprenticeship, internship, and Life-Long learning programs.
  • Más información sobre educación financiera. (More information about financial education)
  • Entrepreneur support to start a business.
  • Pay based on cost of living, increased minimum wage.
  • Encouragement for the creation of cooperatives.
  • Counteract generational wealth disparities
  • Pay living wage and up rather than just minimum wage.
  • Increased job training (by the government) and vocational programs in FCPS.
  • More training on entrepreneurship, greater level of education to adults wanting a career.
  • More investment in education and social welfare programs. More inclusivity.
  • Utilizing resources that give assistance to those who are unable to find a job due to prior unlawful consequences or lack of assistance.
  • Business investments in low income communities 
  • More training on entrepreneurship, greater level of education to adults wanting a career change. 
  • Assisting members of transient communities apply for jobs and housing.
  • Las personas con pocos recursos financieros no tienen dinero suficiente para enviar a los hijos a la universidad. (People with little financial resources don’t have enough money to send their children to college).
  • Incorporar más información al público como aprendizaje de oficios como carpinteros, mecánicos, y otros. (Provide more information to the public about education for trades like carpenters, mechanics, and others)

B. Culture, entertainment, youth programming, and recreational green space

These comments also provide concrete and actionable changes that the city can make to provide residents with more opportunities for cultural enrichment, entertainment, youth programming, and recreational green space. Responses show that free access to local events, art initiatives, farmers markets, parks, green space, and public entertainment would improve quality of life for many Hispanic and Latino residents in our city:

  • Más atracciones públicas. Más lugares de venta de fruta/verduras frescas de los granjeros de Kentucky. También atracciones como un pequeño “Navy pier” como el de Chicago. (More public attractions. More places that sell fresh fruit/vegetables from Kentucky farmers. Also more attractions such as a small “Navy Pier” like Chicago’s)
  • More diverse activities and shows. 
  • More opportunities for entertainment without the prices continually increasing every time a new opportunity is added.
  • More things that are not expensive for young adults .
  • More family-friendly activities (art museums).
  • Poner eventos públicos de entretenimiento. 
  • More activities would be great music in the park and activities for kids. 
  • Me encantaría más información de dónde ir en fines de semana para mi familia y disfrutar de Lexington. (I would love more information about where to go on the weekends to enjoy Lexington with my family)
  • Free outdoor concerts with bus routes that go and good parking options.
  • More investment in our downtown corridor, more events. 
  • More cultural events. 
  • More local events throughout the year (ie pride events, advocacy walks, run/walk races downtown).
  • More fishing spots, more outdoor recreational activities, more museums, aquariums showing native animals.
  • I think it would be better if they had more activities to do that weren’t expensive or cost money. Maybe we could have stuff like free museums.
  • More green spaces, museums, and art projects.
  • Provide more funding for our parks, and consider more access to rural greenspaces like the horse farms, particularly to children in underserved populations.
  • More community gardens.
  • More local parks with updated resources, local parks with fields open to all 
  • Let open fields at parks grow wild with trails mowed through and/or or plant more trees in park fields. 
  • Access to healthy food – many neighbors have limited options on where they can access clean and healthy foods. We have three convenience  stores within walking distance and neither provide healthy food.

C. Public Transportation

An important theme that connects these issues of access, whether to fresh food, cultural activities, or employment support, is that of public transportation. Increasing the frequency of service and ease of travel via the public bus system is a top priority for many Hispanic and Latino residents, and in particular for those who live in geographically isolated neighborhoods such as Winburn:

  • Accessible transportation and more things that are not expensive for young adults.
  • accessible public transportation, bike infrastructure, sidewalk infrastructure.
  • A focus on alternative modes of transportation (transit, bike share programs, etc.).
  • Offer more public transportation options.
  • I think Lexington should integrate walking more within the city in addition to better public transit
  • More options for transportation.
  • Investing in public transportation to provide more options and less travel time when using public transportation. 
  • Public transportation ought to be more accessible. Perhaps looking at what other cities with successful transportation and model what has worked for them could help.
  • I want my taxes to go to free public transportation.
  • Transporte a otros condados no nomas en el área (Transportation to other counties that are close by)
  • I think we need to have more bus stops or more buses in general. They could also make like rentable bike places in neighborhoods so that people can bike to where they want to go. 
  • I think Lexington should integrate walking more within the city in addition to better public transit. 
  • Better integrated transit with sidewalks everywhere…Make public transit reliable and efficient. 
  • More bike lanes. A LOT MORE BUSES running every 15 minutes. Free parking downtown if you live or work downtown. 

The Hispanic and Latino residents who participated in On The Table conversations and surveys live in the most ethnically and racially diverse neighborhoods in our city. They and their neighbors are the experts on what Lexington needs to do to become a more inclusive and equitable city. One respondent’s  comment that “It’s important that diversity is the hub of Lexington’s growth” underscores how imperative it is for Lexington to not only ask, but also listen to non-white residents living in diverse neighborhoods. The solutions presented here are notably absent of comments related to linguistic and cultural relevance, focusing instead on basic services, infrastructure, and programs. Increasing access and opportunity for Hispanic and Latino residents means connecting the neighborhoods in which they live in to the life of the city in meaningful and sustainable ways, to placing them at the center, and not the periphery, of economic and cultural initiatives, and to making sure that residents in non-white neighborhoods have equal access and opportunity to engage in community life, fulfill their social and cultural needs, and access the employment support they need.


(1) The terms Hispanic, Latino, Latin@, and Latinx are used interchangeably by organizations and individuals to identify peoples and communities whose heritage can be traced to Latin America, and occasionally to Spain and Portugal as well. Statistical representations, such as the Census figures and OTT survey results explored here, often erase the diversity of experiences that lead individuals to self-identify as Hispanic or Latino by providing limited and overlapping ways for individuals to describe their individual race and ethnicity. The Census Bureau collects data on race and ethnicity based on self-identification, noting that the “the racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. In addition, it is recognized that the categories of the race item include racial and national origin or sociocultural groups. People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as ‘American Indian’ and ‘White.’ People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race” (United States Census Bureau). The OTT survey demographics are also based on self-identification, with respondents given the option to choose “Hispanic/Latino” as a marker of their individual “Race/Ethnicity” (Civic Lex. “Posters in Progress”).

(2) Population demographics by Census tract from 2000-2020 retrieved from OpenStreetMap.

(3) 2.23% of OTT survey residents choose to identify as “Hispanic/Latino”, with 15% not providing an answer to this question, and 2.31% choosing “Other” (CivicLex. “On The Table Public Database”).

(4) All selected comments are presented verbatim from the OTT data set. Spanish-English translations are by the author.