I found this op-ed piece, written by a Rebbeca Acuna, that ran in Friday's Austin American-Statesman so moving, that I am reprinting it here:
Watching our nation's first African American president nominate the first Latina to the Supreme Court was surreal. Immediately after Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, I texted my mother, "Mom, a Latina just got nominated to the Supreme Court!" She quickly responded, "I know, how exciting!"
As I reflected on the historic nature of that nomination, I thought about the ways that I could relate to Sotomayor's life. Like her father, my mother did not speak English when she first came to the United States. My own journey to college was a long and difficult one. As an immigrant from a low-income household I spent many nights frustrated that, despite my good grades, a higher education would be unattainable. After much perseverance, and with the support and love of our family, my sister and I were the first to attend college and graduate from the University of Texas.
And while my story was not uncommon in South Texas, where I grew up, it was a story not very visible in the public sphere, and much less on the Supreme Court.
Sotomayor grew up poor in a Bronx housing project and was raised by a single mother after the death of her father. Her dedication took her to Ivy League schools and subsequently led to a rewarding legal career. However, Sotomayor's story is no less American than Sen. John Cornyn's or that of the other justices. It represents the background of the people I grew up with, and that of millions across the nation.
Estimates predict that, by 2025, one in four U.S. students will be Latino. Sotomayor's ascendance from a housing project to the United States Supreme Court will enthuse young Latinos across the country and remind them that they too have a shot at the American dream. Her presence will bolster the aspirations and shift the expectations of what's achievable for young women and Latinos from working class households.
There is no doubt that Sotomayor has excellent academic and legal credentials that make her qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. With her quintessentially American story, she will be a great role model to Americans from all backgrounds.
Obama's nomination of Sotomayor renewed and strengthened the promise that, in America, all things are possible.It has shown how much we've grown as a country since 2005, when anti-immigrant legislation was prevalent and resulted in hostility toward Latinos.
The president's nomination of Sotomayor says to me, "You too are America."
Acuna is a policy analyst and communications director in Austin for state Rep. Garnet F. Coleman. She grew up in McAllen and Laredo.