In mid-September, as Hispanic Heritage Month was just kicking off, I reached out to you with a message about my take on the significance of this time. As I expressed, it is my strong conviction that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our legacy… Not just the one we inherited, but also the one we are leaving for future generations of Latinos. Now, as this month of recognition and celebration has come to a close, let’s proudly and diligently carry the torch of that legacy until next September. The future of the Hispanic community is in our hands, and our young people are looking to us for guidance as they journey toward adulthood.
Based on what I see every day in Philadelphia and around the country, the next generation of Hispanic leaders is an extremely talented and intelligent group of young people. At very young ages, Latino youth are learning to wrestle with the realities of being bicultural and bilingual. They are learning to identify with the history of their Hispanic ancestors, while they also embrace their position as citizens of the United States. In some cases, they are figuring out what it means to be immigrants, figuring out how to expand their horizons by putting down roots in this country even while they still feel loyalty and love for their countries of origin. They are managing to build their identities with all these rich influences, and in the process they are becoming all the more adaptable, more capable, and more prepared for the challenges and the fullness of life.
Our country’s future will depend on these young people becoming part of the everyday fabric of our society. In arenas like our businesses, military, and social security system, it is imperative that we assure Latino, minority, and economically disadvantaged people in our country are provided the opportunity to overcome the hurdles they face and become successful, productive citizens.
To recognize the special month that has passed, we asked three of our high school students at Esperanza Academy Charter School to write a brief reflection on what their Hispanic heritage means to them. Their insights are truly encouraging and edifying. I hope you’ll join us in celebrating with these young people, by visitingwww.esperanza.us to read what they have shared.
The Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr.