The community’s first Latino Summit, which took place late last month, was successful on many counts: the crowd of 90 that it attracted on a wintry Wednesday evening; the prodding – even imperative – speeches delivered in Spanish to make Latino voices heard; and the frank conversations among representatives of the School District, the City, Police Department and community members.
Some of those speeches and conversations were uncomfortable, perhaps deliberately so, but important. We learned that the growing Latino community wants to be part of the whole Evanston community, but there are still language and cultural barriers in the way. We learned that many people are working hard to overcome these barriers and are willing to continue to do so.
We learned that education is prized in the Latino community but that many students and families are still at sea when it comes to understanding how our education systems work.
We learned that some of these problems are national – the immigration maelstrom, for example, and lack of help for undocumented residents.
We hope these conversations continue throughout the community. We understand that dialogue alone will not solve these problems, but it is a start. We applaud Latino Resources for convening the summit and the City, the School Districts and others for supporting and participating in this first Latino Summit.