Smiley plans “Latino Nation” symposium, to “re-examine assumptions”

By Dru Sefton

Public broadcaster Tavis Smiley is co-sponsoring a daylong symposium for discussion of issues of importance to the Latino community, modeled on his State of the Black Union gatherings.

The April 6 event at Chicago State University, “Latino Nation: Beyond the Numbers,” is the first time that “such a diverse and representative group of Latinos discusses its broad agenda on a national stage,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the co-sponsoring William C. Velásquez Institute, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas.

Smiley said that the “exponential growth” of the Latino community “demands that we re-examine the assumptions we hold to create new ideas and possibilities for a better, more united tomorrow.”

Agenda topics include health care, climate change, education, jobs and immigration. The participants, still being finalized, feature Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Margaret Moran, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and actress Eva Longoria.

Smiley had sponsored State of the Black Union gatherings nationwide for 10 years, calling them “a pulse check on how African Americans were fairing economically, politically and socially.” He ended the events in 2010, saying that communication and activism on the Internet reduced the need for an annual in-person meeting.

The symposium will stream live and use Twitter hashtag #TheLatinoNation2013.

Coverage of the “Latino Nation” symposium will air April 10-12 on Tavis Smiley on PBS, and the weekend of April 12 on The Tavis Smiley Show, distributed through Public Radio International.

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