Hispanic youths gather tackle variety of
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 20, 2004 12:00 AM
DOWNTOWN - The Latino voice is powerful, but the question Friday was, how can
Arizona's youths make it stronger and louder?
About 800 Valley Hispanic leaders and students gathered at Phoenix Civic Plaza
for the Latino Institute to celebrate their past and to plan to make their
voices heard in the future.
Through workshops and panels, participants discussed issues facing the Latino
community: poor voter turnout, immigration, domestic violence, financial
planning and education.
"It's advantageous for the youth," said Daniel Rodriguez, 17, a senior at Trevor
Browne High School who won a $1,500 scholarship through the Latino Institute to
attend a university. "We learn about stuff that we won't get in school. Kids
come here and get to know who represents them."
Henry Cisneros, Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Clinton
administration and a former mayor of San Antonio, delivered the keynote speech.
The "Making the Connection" conference focused on what Cisneros called "Hispanization,"
the growing Latino community and its influence on America's cultural, political
and economic scenes.
"I think we stand on the edge of being politically powerful," said Cisneros, who
received two standing ovations from the crowd of politicians, students and
business owners. That means "being about to control the resources and power and
the ability to control outcomes."
The institute was born at a conference of the National Recreation and Parks
Congress four years ago; other parks and recreation departments in other states
formed their own institutes built on the first successful conference, including
"We have this big influx of people coming in, and we're asking ourselves, how
are we preparing as organizations to deal with the changing demographic, from
the private sector, the non-profit sector and the public sector?" said Albert
Santanta, co-chairman of the institute.
Mario Miranda, 15, said he was encouraged by Cisneros' speech and the workshops.
"We're going to be the good, new America," said Miranda, a sophomore at North
High School. "Not the bad, like some people think."