“When Martin Luther King Jr. was organizing those young people… they were invisible for a long time from the mainstream media. They were holding their protests, and no one was telling their stories… DREAMers [Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors] are young people who were brought here as children. They are American in every sense of the word, but they don’t have citizenship papers. These are the young people who are creating the human rights movement of your time.”
With these words, Maria Hinojosa, four-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, commenced Andover’s 24th annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Monday’s All-School Meeting (ASM). During her keynote speech, Hinojosa described the issues surrounding immigration and her efforts to tell the stories and struggles of those affected.
For Hinojosa, the first Latina woman to be a correspondent at National Public Radio, CNN and PBS, telling stories of the seemingly invisible through journalism and changing the language surrounding immigration represent her endeavors to translate King’s values to the current day.
Hinojosa described the story of an undocumented immigrant named Celia who lives in Spanish Harlem. “[She was] someone I know whose American dream went up in smoke,” said Hinojosa. Celia’s family was affected by a teenage pregnancy, academic failure and obesity, leading Celia to lose all hope for the country.
Born in Mexico and raised in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, Hinojosa was the only Mexican immigrant in her public elementary school.
“Growing up, for me, Martin Luther King was very real. He was the first person who made me feel like I could be a part of this country, like I could be an American… I feel like it’s my job to help him resonate with this next generation… We have to own what he stood for,” said Hinojosa in an interview with _The Phillipian_.
“I posit that… you and your generation is actually on the front line of the next civil rights movement,” she continued, asking the audience to consider how they can help everyone have the opportunity to reach their American dream.
Hinojosa said that most of the conversations about immigration are happening outside of the mainstream media. Following her passion to give a voice to the voiceless, Hinojosa created her own media company, the Futuro Media Group, which is dedicated to telling the untold stories of Latinos in America.
“We [at the Futuro Media Group] would call ourselves disrupters,” she said. “The mission, I think, is to tell untold stories.”
This ignorance, the problem she tries to combat through her speeches and journalistic work, is also the responsibility of today’s youth to fight, said Hinojosa. “There are many invisible people in our country. I’m challenging you to make them visible,” said Hinojosa.
Hinojosa stressed the significance of the rapid growth of the Latina immigrants in America, which is experiencing the fastest demographic expansion of our time.
“In a decade, Andover will have to look very different… Every 90 seconds, a Latino turns 18 in our country. Every 90 seconds. Educating Latinos is going to be central to how the rest of us all move in the world. And so… it’s going to affect all of us,” said Hinojosa.