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rutgers_bloustein_lgo_nyreblog_com_.gifLatinos in New Jersey:  Representation, Leadership and Empowerment


Saturday April 2, 9:30 to 4:30pm

Keynote speaker:  US Senator Robert Menendez


Sponsors:  Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies and the Latino Information Network @ Rutgers University--New Brunswick http://latcar.rutgers.edu
Location: Rutgers University, New Brunswick--33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick ( Bloustein School Auditorium )

Latinos have a long-standing presence in New Jersey that dates back at least a century.  Today hundreds of thousands of people form the state's heterogeneous but growing Latino population, many of them immigrants or migrants, and many others the second, third and fourth generation descendants of earlier migrants.  Currently Latinos form 18 % of the state's population (1.5 million), 19% of its public school population and 30% of its demographic growth in the last ten years.

Latino politics and policy in the state, however, have a younger history.  During the 1960s and 70s Latino politics were mostly a matter of community organizing and of protest against abuse and exclusion.  Since the 1980s, however, Latinos have developed a more complex presence in the state's politics.  The emergence of Latino-dominant towns and cities and coalition politics facilitated the incorporation of a few Latino mayors, council persons and many social and community leaders.

This conference will provide a vibrant forum for the presentation and discussion of ideas about Latino politics and organizing in New Jersey.  The time is ripe for this discussion.  There are many patterns and experience that will feed this dialog.  A Puerto Rican female mayor presides over Latino-dominant Perth Amboy.  A Cuban-descent ex-mayor represents the state in the US Senate.  The state has two Latino-dominant counties and a strong pattern of Latino dispersion in many other parts of the state.  Throughout the state many, but perhaps not enough, elected representatives share challenges with many Latino and immigrant organizations and leaders. 

This conference will raise many relevant questions related to Latinos, Politics and empowerment in the state:

  • Are Latinos fairly represented in the state's politics?
  • Do Latino politicians overcome the obstacles or recreate them? Do they work closely enough with local activist, community leaders?
  • Are New Jersey's districts fair to Latinos?
  • What are the possibilities of coalition politics in the state? With Asian-descent immigrants? With African Americans? With working class immigrant communities?
  • How do economic inequality and the growing polarization between affluent and impoverished communities affect the political participation of Latinos in the state?
  • What is the hope for the emergence of cross-race/ethnic coalitions with white politicians and communities?
  • What is the relationship between electoral politics and other forms of political and community organization?

The Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies seeks to provide a forum for the discussion of these and many other questions.  Our role as part of a public university is to support democratic practices and public dialog about critical issues such as the ones addressed by this conference.

We invite all public officials, political leaders, activists, immigrant organizers, community leaders, students, and academics with an interest in these questions to join us.

The organizers hope that the conference will nourish conversations and encourage leadership networks that will survive at the end of the day.

This conference will be showcased on Rutgers's Latino Information Network, a joint project of the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communication and Information.

Tentative Schedule:

  • 9:30: arrival, breakfast
  • 10:00-12:30 Formal Presentations (tentative)
    • A review of Latino Politics in NJ since the 1960s
    • Demographic and Economic Profile of Latinos in the State
    • Perth Amboy--A Case Study
    • Organizing Latinos in the State
    • Latinos and Redistricting
    • Keynote by Senator Menendez
  • 12:30-1:30: Lunch
  • 1:30-2:30: Concurrent Discussion Sessions (Each with a recorder/reporter and a coordinator/instigator)
      • Redistricting
      • Getting out the vote
      • Leadership alliances beyond national origin and racial boundaries
      • Planning for the next twenty years
  • Break 2:30-3:00
  • 3:00-4:00: Concurrent Discussion Sessions (Each with a recorder/reporter and a coordinator/instigator)
      • Redistricting
      • Getting out the vote
      • Leadership alliances beyond national origin and racial boundaries
      • Planning for the next twenty years
  • 4:00-5:00: Plenary
  • 5:00 Reception

Coordinator: Aldo Lauria Santiago, Chair, Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies ( alauria@rci.rutgers.edu ; 848-445-0011)

Assistant: Soledad Chacon ( schacon@rci.rutgers.edu ); 848-445-0011

Co-sponsors (preliminary):

  • Office of the Mayor of Perth Amboy
    • Program on Immigration and Democracy, The Eagleton Institute of Politics--Rutgers University
  • Center for Latino Arts and Culture-Rutgers University

To Register
 Please send the following information to latcar@rci.rutgers.edu with subject line "Conference Preregistration"
Organization (if relevant)

If you have suggestions on individuals or organizations that should participate in this event please send us their contact information or forward this announcement to them.