On Saturday December 5, 2015 the South Bronx was host to yet another historic event of sorts. It was not a Latin concert in el Condado de la Salsa in the borough that has had some of the best salseros perform, or a Hip Hop extravaganza in the borough that gave birth to that genre. It was not a visit of a religious leader, or national politician, or any celebrity. It was a very quiet but impactful gathering of over fifty community leaders and activist discussing a number of issues important to the community that will be included in a Progressive Latino Agenda for our communities.
The Bronx was the first of other such forums that will be taking place throughout the city as part of the Campaign for a Fair Latino Representation, an organization that was established in 2014 as a response to the problem of Latino underrepresentation in the new administration of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The organization decided that it would hold citywide community forums with Latino leaders from all the boroughs and together develop a citywide Latino Agenda that will be used as a guide and presented prior to the Mayor’s State of the City report in January 2016.
Therefore, it was no coincidence that the Bronx with the largest Latino population and the only borough with a Latino majority was the first to host a forum.
The event was held at the Resurrección United Methodist Church located in the heart of the South Bronx on 156th St and Elton Avenue. The church has had a history of decades of progressive work in the South Bronx. The church was the perfect location to discuss the many issues that affect a community that has been struggling with some of the worst social and health indicators in the city, state and in some case the nation.
There were five workshops, all led by Latino individuals who either live in the community, or doing work in those areas. The workshops were in the following areas:
Housing/Gentrification: Wanda Salaman & Daniel Silvagnoli
Education: Luis Quirós and Guisela Marroquin
Policing & Community: Ramón Jimenez and Jasmir Trujillo
Economic development/Economic Justice: Julio Muñoz, Rev. Carmen Hernández & Frank Garcia
Environmental Justice/Health: Julio Pabón & Raymond Figueroa
The workshops revealed many of the conditions that are important to many of the residents of the South Bronx and gave concrete recommendations for addressing them.
Seeing so many different activist and organizations of the Bronx under one roof reminded me of the potential that we have as a community. It was indeed a historic day in the Bronx, not just for the Latino community, but also for the entire borough and city.