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San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro on Being a Latino Leader
Last week, the Latino Summit unified TFA corps members, alumni, staff, and Latino leaders in a mission to change the educational story of Latino students in the United States and grant them the opportunity to achieve their “one day.” Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, addressed all summit attendees and guests during our closing celebration dinner.
As I listened to his speech, I could not help but reflect on my dad risking his life twice on the Rio Grande immigrating into this country, and my mom fighting diabetes as she worked countless jobs for us to survive. Due to both of their deaths, they are here to see their American Dream become a reality through me. I feel empowered to walk into my classroom and infuse my students with the knowledge that is necessary for them to show their parents that the hard work and dedication is all worth it in the end.
Mayor Castro’s speech made me realize that we can collectively give generations of Latinos in this nation the opportunity to achieve their new American reality, and that I am a part of this movement.
-Katherine Leiva, Miami-Dade 2012 Corps Member, English through ESOL teacher for grades 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th.
See excerpts of Mayor Castro’s powerful speech below.
Mayor Castro on the future role of Latinos in the United States...
As we stand here today in 2013 ... we truly stand at the intersection of two realities that will intimately impact the future of our country. The first of these realities is that our world is changing faster than it ever changed in human history. ... It’s easier to communicate, to travel, to compute, than it ever has been before. ...
… In short, we live in the 21st Century where brainpower is the new currency of success. Those communities that create it will be the communities that thrive, and those that don’t will fall behind. The second reality is that we don’t have an ounce of talent to waste in this country because of it. And that Latinos … represent the fastest growing segment of our population. ...
…Those two realities add up to this, Latinos will either be the biggest asset or the biggest albatross of the United States of America in the 21st Century. … A few months ago at the convention I had the opportunity to speak of my own story. My grandmother who came here when she was six years old, from Mexico, and dropped out before she reached the fourth grade. And because of that she ended up working as a maid and a cook and a babysitter, her whole life. She worked hard so that my mother, who was her only child, could graduate from high school and then go on to college. And my mother worked hard, fought in the Chicano movement of the late 1960s and ’70s, and sacrificed as well so that her two sons could go and graduate from college, and then law school, and then become lawyers and politicians.
And I know that whether that story was coming from Peru or Colombia or Venezuela or Argentina, or wherever that if we went around this room, that’s a very common story. So I believe that Latinos can be and will be the biggest asset to this country because I know that we work hard, we sacrifice, we have the right values, the same faith, the same love of country that has made America great over the generations, but I also know that that doesn’t happen by accident. And the research is very clear that what you do is right at the heart of what can make a difference in the lives of our young people.
Mayor Castro on being a leader in the classroom...
We stand on the shoulders of generations who came before us, of Latino mothers and fathers, and aunts and uncles, and grandmothers and grandfathers, who made beds and made tremendous sacrifices, who picked crops and picketed in front of buildings, who sat in and stood up and stooped down, so that we could have the opportunities that we have today.
So let us use their wisdom and the hope that they have given us, so that every time we walk into one of those classrooms whether teacher, or policymaker, or community member, to insure that the dreams that those young people have come true and that we turn their American dream into an American reality.