On Monday, November 15th 2010, the Pew Hispanic Center released a new report dubbed National Latino Leader? The Job is Open. This essence of this report reveals there is no consensus over a prominent leadership voice representing the Latino community in America today. According to the study, “Latinos were asked in an open-ended question to name the person they consider ‘the most important Latino leader in the country today,’ nearly two-thirds (64%) of Latino respondents said they did not know. An additional 10% said ‘no one.’” These percentages reveal that 74% of the Latino population is unsure or at least unaware of a national Latino/na leader. The results of those who did provide answers were dismal at best, noting:
– 7% support for Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
– 5% thought of Luis Guiterrez, U.S. Representative from Illinois
– 3% mentioned Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa
– And, 2% voted for news anchor Jorge Ramos of Noticiero Univision
These Latinos have liberal tendencies and occupy “institutional” and “local” offices, which would not appeal to a nationally diverse Latino population. With this said, a few questions must be asked:
It is time for the Latino community to have a national voice speaking for them, much like the African American community has Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and leaders of the National Associations of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The recent mid-term elections propelled three potential Latino voices onto the national scene: Senator-elect Marco Rubio Florida; Susan Martinez, Governor from the State of New Mexico; and Brian Sandoval, Governor-elect from the state of Nevada.
– Marco Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and a proven conservative. A question arises whether Mexicans, who make up the majority of Latinos in the United States, can depend upon Rubio to represent their needs in Congress, especially in the area of immigration reform?
– Susan Martinez, a conservative as well, and a native born citizen from El Paso, Texas. Could Martinez, as a native born citizen of the United States, appeal to the large Mexican population living in the Southwest region to galvanize a respectable national following with strong feelings against amnesty?
– Brian Sandoval, a native born citizen of Northern California, is perhaps too distant from the current diverse makeup of the Latino population, which tends to be more bi-cultural in nature, speaking Spanish as their first language.
These voices will take some time to hold sway among a growing and diverse Latino population.
One individual not mentioned in Pew’s study is Rev. Sammy Rodriquez who presides over the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the largest Hispanic evangelical group in the nation, representing over 40,000 churches and religious entities with representing a population of 19 million adherents. Rev. Rodriquez was recently featured on the cover of October’s edition of Charisma magazine, an evangelical periodical. In my opinion Rev. Rodriquez has more potential than anyone mentioned in Pew’s report, even of the three newly elected Latinos, to have a national voice. He has met with members of both parties in Congress and participates in White House briefings on social justice, Latino and values issues. As a matter of fact Rev. Rodriquez has been a regular voice on CNN, Fox News and other national media outlets advocating for immigration reform; defending over 12 million undocumented Latinos. As a national voice for immigration reform, he has the best possibility of becoming our nation’s leadership voice for the Hispanic community. Perhaps, Rev. Rodriquez is the best kept secret in the Latino community.
Who do you see as the national voice for the Latino community? And why do they deserve your respect?