Why Latino Leadership Matters


Help us create the next generation of Latino leaders – make a tax-deductible year-end donation to LatinoJustice today.

Over 44 years, LatinoJustice has helped thousands of young Latinos, including me, onto the path to a legal career. I was one of those young Latino law students who, in the early 1980s, received invaluable career guidance from Luis DeGraffe, then Director of PRLDEF’s Education Division. These students have now become lawyers, leaders and activists in the community, in government and in private enterprise. In the past decade, I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to repay the career guidance that I was provided by mentoring dozens of talented legal interns at LatinoJustice. I’m extremely proud to play a small role in their professional development and achievement.

More importantly, these former interns, along with the hundreds of students who have come through our various pre-law pipeline programs over the past 10 years, have been exposed to their critical role as our future leaders in opposing attempts to deny Latinos the opportunity to advance and overcome professional, social and civic barriers. One of the U.S. Latino community’s most important advances in this century might never have occurred if not for the thousands of advocates who united with us to stand up for Justice Sonia Sotomayor and her distinguished record of service with LatinoJustice during her 2009 US Supreme Court confirmation process.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who today is the president-elect’s nominee for US Attorney General, attempted to discredit Justice Sotomayor by publicly citing her service with the “extremist” Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. Not willing to permit one of our nation’s most accomplished Latina jurists and one of this country’s leading Latino civil rights organizations to be vilified, members of the Hispanic National Bar Association and twenty-five other national Latino advocacy & service organizations united to send a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee leadership condemning Session’s remarks, and defending LatinoJustice PRLDEF as “a strong and vibrant institution [whose] work serves not only the Latino community, but the nation as a whole because it advances the basic American principles of equal opportunity and equal access to justice for all in our society.”

Read the full letter here.

If the campaign rhetoric and the early appointments announced by the incoming administration so far are a true indication of intent, LatinoJustice and our allies all over the country are going to have a very busy few years ahead. We cannot afford to concede an inch on the civil and human rights of Latinos. And the young lawyers and leaders who have come through our programs and are joining us in taking up the struggle will have a critical impact on our eventual success.

Please join us in the struggle. Help us foster the next generation of Latino leaders. Make your year-end donation to LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s Justice 2017 Fund today.

En la lucha,

Jose Perez
Deputy General Counsel

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