Testaments to the power of relationships, be they familial or civic, will play out today.
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
Mayor Sly James and National Council of La Raza President and CEO Janet Murguia will formally announce that the organizations 2015 convention is coming to Kansas City.
Murguia and the NCLR board have long wanted to her hometown to host the convention.
The metro area has seven of the NCLRs nearly 300 affiliates and last hosted the national event in 1989.
And lastly, its time because the unfortunate flap that pulled the 2009 convention from KC feels like ancient history.
Then-Mayor Mark Funkhouser appointed a member of the extremist Minuteman Civil Defense Corps to the parks board. NCLR threatened to yank the upcoming convention in reaction. Funkhouser ground in, even after the woman offered to resign from the parks board. (She later got wise about the Minutemen organization and quit that group, too.)
But so much has changed, nationally and locally, in regard to immigration and the prominence of Latinos in American culture.
Some people will always hold nativist tendencies, preferring to scapegoat people instead of discuss policy. But far more people now understand why the immigration system needs an overhaul, so many that Congress may finally do something about it.
Murguia deserves some of the credit.
Her roots are in the Argentine area, but shes been a player in the most influential corridors in Washington for decades. Prior to serving as a University of Kansas vice chancellor, Murguia worked for five years in the Clinton White House.
She was the right person to take over the 44-year-old NCLR in 2004, blending a passion for community with a deep understanding of how business gets done in D.C. NCLR advocates on a range of issues education, health, research, voter registration and the workforce.
Murguia took NCLR to new heights as the Latino population grew to more than 50 million people.
The vast majority of Latinos are English-speaking and U.S.-born. Simplistic readings of who is a Latino are waning. Along with a misreading of what the name NCLR signifies. Some have incorrectly translated it to cast the race as a separatist term.
La raza actually denotes the opposite, encompassing the fact that Hispanics can be of any race, along with the notion of a broad, inclusive community.
By the 2015 convention, expect more progress.
Much of it will occur through the sort of commitment to community that Murguia first learned as a child here.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.