Photo: Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, said on the weekend here that there’s no part of my heart that’s not from Puerto Rico and encouraged all Latinos to pursue their dreams.
“If you don’t see the value of community it’s difficult for you to win,” said the magistrate during a colloquium with journalist Maria Hinojosa at the El Barrio Museum in Harlem, where she spoke about her autobiography “My Beloved World.”
Sotomayor, 58, made history in 2009 when she was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the first Latino justice on the high court, and on Sunday she made history again by administering the oath of office to the U.S. vice president, Joe Biden.
“It’s a book full of messages,” said Sotomayor, and one of them is “You can,” a message especially directed at U.S. Hispanics, since to a certain degree she said her memoir is a tribute to her community.
“If I did it, you can do it, too,” she said energetically to the crowd that filled the auditorium and repeatedly applauded her remarks.
In the book, she discusses the difficulties she had during her childhood and professional career, being the daughter of an alcoholic father and going through a divorce, but she said that those experiences helped to forge her strengths.
Sotomayor also spoke to the audience about her diabetes, which she has suffered from since age 8, and which she must inject insulin each day to keep under control. She noted that diabetes is a disease that frequently affects Latinos and said that she has regretted the fact that often we’re ashamed to speak about it, insisting on the need to deal with such problems.
She also talked about her education at Princeton and Yale before she began her legal career, but she specifically remarked upon the value of public schools, saying that it was in those classrooms where she learned the values of hard work and determination that in the future helped her to make important decisions in her life.