Hispanic Heritage Month is an important annual event, one that allows a diverse group of people of similar culture, language and ethnicity to come together and celebrate our shared success as we strive for an even greater future. This month is one of my favorite times of the year as we celebrate our great culture together.
This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month feels a little bit more special than those in the past, considering some of the political vitriol our community has had to face from different quarters, especially from the Republican candidates in the presidential election.
We have seen, firsthand, the great contributions individuals of Hispanic descent have made across the city, be it in government, business, the nonprofit world and other areas. But no place knows better the importance and contribution of the Hispanic community to the city of New York and to the United States better than my home, the great borough of the Bronx.
As the borough with the largest Hispanic population out of the five boroughs, with 53.5 percent of the Bronx’s population being of Hispanic origin, we have seen firsthand how Hispanics have influenced culture, science, art and politics.
We are making great strides in the Bronx. Since I became borough president in 2009, my borough has seen over $7 billion in new development of all kinds. This development includes more than $600 million in housing, building nearly 13,000 new units, and the creation of more than 15,000 new jobs. These great gains would not be possible without the efforts of my borough’s Hispanic community and the strong partnerships they have developed with Bronxites of all backgrounds and ethnicities.
Whether it is an icon such as “Sesame Street” actress Sonia Manzano, hip-hop legend Fat Joe, international pop star divas such as Jennifer Lopez, Bessie Award-winning dancer and choreographer Arthur Aviles, business leaders such as Alfredo Thiebaud, political game-changers such as my good friend and mentor Herman Badillo or trailblazers such as the Honorable Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the impact Hispanics from the Bronx have made on this nation is undeniable.
These individuals are not only some of the role models whose accomplishments we look up to but also role models whose acheviments we build on as we continue to grow as a community, as our political voice gets louder and louder.
With our great population growing larger with each coming year, as Bronx borough president and a proud Puerto Rican, I will continue to help my great borough by developing more housing, creating more jobs and improving education so that we can continue producing great talent in all fields, whether you are Boricua, Dominicano, Mexicano or from anywhere in the great lands and islands that lie between Rio Grande and Tierra del Fuego.
As we face heated, dangerous rhetoric on the issues that concern us the most, the Hispanic community must not only stand together but to also unite with our allies of different backgrounds, such as the African-American community, to fight for the betterment of our communities.