Language and the Melting Pot: Florida’s 1988 “Official English” Referendum

Case Solution

Pamela Varley, Marc Roberts
Harvard Kennedy School ()

This is a case that could stimulate discussions about political strategies and the relationship between marginalized cultural groups and the mainstream. It tells the story of an attempt in 1988 to make English the official language of the state of Florida, inspired in part by tension and jealousy over the arrival and relative prosperity of South Florida’s large Spanish-speaking population. The alternative strategies they have developed reflect both their views on the likely nature of the campaign and their views on the minority-majority ratio. Case number HKS 990.0

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