The City of Cleveland honored the contributions of Latinos Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 with an evening gala that featured Keynote Speaker, José E. López, Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center-Juan Antonio Corretjer. Professor Lopez spoke about the many contributions that Latinos have made across the United States; in particular, the important role that they played in the national presidential campaign that re-elected President Obama. As he touched on the topic of Immigration Reform, the approximately 350 people in attendance, were brought to their feet giving Professor López a standing ovation after he transported us on a cultural and musical tour of the Americas. He touched on the traditions of the Sephardic Jews and of the Moors in Spain to that of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and highlighted the significance of the socio-political inter-connections of these contributions.
Emphasizing that this, one’s human and cultural mosaics, has made Latinos the 1st global human identity on earth, and that this historical identity should inform on how one can be transformational agents of change in the US. He touched on the paradox of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, that made Latin America the US “backyard”, and that demographically in 2013, Latinos are now in the US “living room”.
Following the theme of the event “Our Time”, he called on how Latinos are changing the discourse on citizenship, by advocating for “cultural citizenship” which embraces diversity, multi-lingualism and multi-culturalism.