When I think of freedom, I think about the young woman who went from living out of her car with 5 kids and a disabled husband to becoming the valedictorian of Esperanza College. I think about her smile and her confidence, and I think about her grit.
True freedom is the ability to turn opportunity into success but we should never forget that, while we are in the land of the free, opportunity is not freely available to all people, and the grit that disenfranchised people exhibit when they forge new paths where there were none is what makes this the home of the brave.
It takes courage to thrive within a system that was never built for you. Amazing grace is patriotism in a country that was birthed from colonization, built on the backs of slaves, and buried in the land stolen from our ancestors. Yet here we are celebrating another Independence Day, because while America’s forefathers did not actually exemplify the harbingers of freedom written in our text books, we believe in the values written within that sacred declaration:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
At Esperanza, we consider it our hallowed duty to make that statement ring true for ALL people in this country seeking opportunity where it is scarce.
When I think of freedom, I think about the young man who can go to school and provide for his family without fear because Esperanza Immigration Legal Services helped him apply for citizenship. I think about the relief of the family who was saved from the brink of homelessness because of Esperanza Housing Counseling. I think about the dozens of small businesses flourishing in a congressional district with the highest amount of income inequality in the country thanks to Esperanza Housing and Economic Development. I think about the girl who didn’t let stray bullets stop her from finishing 8th grade at Esperanza Academy.
Our community is on the front lines every day, fighting for independence from poverty and for the freedom to succeed. Esperanza provides the opportunity, but our community provides the grit.
We are proud of the contribution the Hispanic community makes to this country, everyday.
Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr.
Founder, President & CEO of Esperanza