Latino voices highlighted at Obama's inauguration

Latino voices highlighted at Obama's inauguration
Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco

Latinos played a visible role at President Obama's inauguration Monday and the president also recognized immigrants and DREAM Act youth in his speech.

"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country," the president said.

President Obama was right to include Latinos in such prominent roles as Latino voters helped propel him to victory and a second term. Three-quarters of Latinos voted Democratic and for the president.

Many of these voters take to heart the president's message of helping others and working for those who are powerless. That is why they expect the president and Congress to move quickly on immigration reform.

He promised to deliver it during the first year of his first term, and his supporters are growing impatient.

I hope the presence of Latinos in leading roles at the inauguration is more than just symbolic.
Rev. Luis Leon of St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., also gave the benediction and at the end offered a few words in Spanish blessing the president and the vice president.

Obama nominated Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic on the court, swore in Vice President Biden.

Among the civil rights leaders watching from the front rows was co-founder of the United Farm Workers Dolores Huerta.

Given a most prominent role was Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco, the first Latino and gay man asked to write the inaugural poem for the president.

His poem spoke to a working America, a diverse America and also paid homage to his parents. His mother was a grocery store clerk and his father picked sugar cane.

His family's story and his poem are reminders of the American Dream that so many have lived and I hope that future generations will find possible.


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