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Latino Daily News

Thursday July 28, 2011

Hispanic Standout:  Marty Castro First Latino Chairperson of the US Commission on Civil Rights

Hispanic Standout:  Marty Castro First Latino Chairperson of the US Commission on Civil Rights

Photo: Hispanic Standout Marty Castro

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

As political pundits try to figure out what if any influence the Latino community is having on the President’s agenda there is an eloquent and persistent Latino voice making sure President Obama doesn’t forget issues of discrimination and voter rights in the community.

That voice belongs to Chicagoan Marty Castro, chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and HS News had the opportunity to talk to him this week. 

Castro received this prestigious appointment by the President in March 2011 in great part because Castro is a Hispanic Standout by any measure. 

Castro is the eighth chairperson of the Commission since its inception in 1957, and the first Latino chairperson in the Commission’s history.  Castro received a unanimous/bipartisan vote to get the chairmanship. 

HS News is wondering if we should send him to Capital Hill to add his voice of reason to the debt ceiling debate. 

The Commission, which was created in the 1950’s, remains very relevant today as it investigates complaints of discrimination and voting right abuses.  In addition, Chairperson Castro wants to expand the scope by “addressing issues of education access and environmental justice.” 

Upon being appointed Castro said, “I am humbled by the confidence that President Obama and my fellow Commissioners have shown in me by elevating me to Chairperson of the Commission. As the son and grandson of immigrants from Mexico who came to this county for the hope it offered, and as a proud American, I am honored to serve my country in this important capacity.”

Chairing this important commission has put Castro face to face with what he has always known “discrimination is alive and well in the U.S.”  Of special concern to Castro is the increase in hate crimes against Latinos and local elections laws that negatively impact Latino’s right to vote. 

Castro is very aware of the negative effect and fear anti-immigrant laws are causing in the community, he noted the “chilling” effect is palpable.

You can find this Hispanic standout on any given day getting ready for commission meetings, holding commission press conferences in Spanish (a first) and collecting accolades for his work.  Castro recently received the Marshall Thurgood Award of Excellence.

Most importantly as Castro noted he is busy “righting a lot of wrongs.”