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Home DISCURSOS Seminar of “Legado” Speech by Demetrio Perez Jr.

Seminar of “Legado” Speech by Demetrio Perez Jr.

Good morning! ¡Buenos dias!

In the 1960s, a long time before you were born, Cuban immigrants fleeing communism began arriving in Miami. There were so many, yet in 1963, Coral Way Elementary became the first bilingual school in The United States. The goal of its curriculum was to teach students the language and the cultures of the Hispanic world as well as those of the Hispanic one. Just like Coral Way Elementary was the first bilingual school in the country, Legado is the first curriculum to address the impact that Hispanics have had on the history of the United States. Legado is crucial for this school system.

In Miami-Dade Hispanics and African- Americans are have the highest school dropout rates. I ask you, how many jobs and, more importantly, what kinds of jobs, will be available to people who lack a high school diploma? As professional educators, we are aware that one of main reasons why a student drops-out of school is low self-esteem. That is where Legado and African-Americans voices come into the picture. Children who know the many important contributions made by people like themselves will feel better about who they are.

For instance, today, we are celebrating this conference on Columbus Day, known in Spanish as "El Dia de la Raza.” On this day in 1942, explorer Christopher Columbus defied the odds and discovered a new world for mankind.

Had it not been for Columbus and Queen Isabella, our lives might be drastically different.

I urge you to pay close attention to this conference and take its message to heart. How well you deliver that message to your students could determine whether or not they will succeed in the future. And their success or failure affects all of us.

Let us the immortal words of John Donne:
"No man is a island...Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” And the unforgettable words ending the poem: "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Ladies and gentlemen, these words apply equally to the school bell, which must toll for all our children. Thanks for your work with programs like Legado; many more children will 'never send to know for whom the bell tolls.