Cinco de Mayo
May 5, 2009
Queridos vecinos de Maryland! Bienvenidos a su recien liberada Casa de la Gobernacion y Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Es un gusto estar entre amigos celebrando esta fiesta hoy.
(To my fellow Marylanders, welcome to your newly liberated Government House and happy Cinco de Mayo! It’s good to be among friends as we celebrate this great holiday tonight.)
And I welcome all of you here on behalf of my boss, Katie O’Malley. It’s great to be with all of you tonight.
I’m going to have a couple more words to say about him later on, but it’s also great to be with our – I don’t want to jinx it, he hasn’t been confirmed – but our nation’s next Deputy Secretary of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, Tom Perez.
Let me also say a word of thanks to all of you who serve on the Commission on Hispanic Affairs – especially Ruby Stemmle and Maria Welch. And to everyone who serves not only on the Hispanic Commission, but also on all of the various boards and commissions… To all of you who have taken time away from your families, who have come out in the evenings to make our State go, and to make our State grow, and to make our State a better place, I thank you for that.
The great Mexican President Benito Juarez said that, “Among individuals as among nations, the respect of other peoples’ rights is peace.”
And I think as Marylanders, we understand that. There is a duality; there is a mutuality between freedom and tolerance. They both go together.
And that’s what our shared history has proven, time and time again – that for all of our diversity in our State, for all of the things that distinguish us from one another, at the end of the day, there is a lot more that unites us than divides us. And the most important of which is our belief in the dignity of every individual; our belief in our own responsibility to advance the common good; our understanding also that there is a unity to spirit and matter, that God wants every partial victory, and that what we do in our own lifetimes does matter.
I was looking over the growth that has happened in our State, and however you measure it, it is very, very clear that the future of Maryland is going to be strengthened in many ways by a fast-growing, very vibrant, and very diverse Hispanic community here in the State of Maryland. And that’s a good thing.
It is with confidence that we declare that diversity is our strength because we understand that that is what makes us stronger as a people. That’s truly the hallmark of who we are as Marylanders.
We have been working hard on a number of things together, and I want to thank you for your efforts – especially on foreclosure prevention. Together, we’re leading the nation in our work to stem the foreclosure crisis. And as part of our efforts, we’re holding bilingual Foreclosure Preservation and Mitigation Workshops – because no family should lose their home because of a language barrier.
Together, we are expanding opportunity also by increasing State awards to Hispanic-owned firms by nearly 40% in FY2007, over 53% in FY2008.
Together, you have helped us to appoint 70 Hispanic individuals to over 55 boards and commissions and one Cabinet level position.
And together we’ve also established a Council for New Americans, which was something near and dear, I know, to the hearts of everyone on the Commission for Hispanic Affairs – and to Secretary Perez as well.
Let me wrap up with this thought.
I once heard the colors of our Maryland flag described by the architect who put together the Reginald Lewis Museum. He said that the black and the white represent the shades of our diversity – the shades, the cultures, the skin colors that distinguish us from one another. The red represents that red blood of humanity that all of us share as children of God. And the gold represents the opportunity that we have the freedom to pursue together – that shared future that all of our children share.