Campus and Community

Symposium at UHD Addressing Challenges of Latino Youth

Luis Rodriguez

Luis Rodriguez

Latino boys and young men face a number of challenges. Statistics indicate that they are less likely to complete high school and have a higher homicide rate than white males of the same age.

Such data is an alarming and frank reminder that this segment of the country’s population must overcome many obstacles. In spite of such hurdles, many young Latinos rise to the occasion and embark on successful personal and professional journeys.

On Sept. 30, the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) will partner with Arte Público Press to spotlight the issues affecting Latino youth during the symposium “Latino Young Men and Boys in Search of Justice: My Brother’s Keeper.”

The event will feature presentations from three noted Latino authors and discussion sessions aimed at local youth and professionals who work with at-risk students. The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in UHD’s Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson Auditorium (third floor of UHD’s Academic Building – One Main Street). This event is free and open to the public. Attendees can RSVP here.

Authors who will share their insights on the male Latino youth experience include:

  • Luis J. Rodriguez is Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and author of 15 books including “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” In addition to his writings, Rodriguez is an activist who works extensively with gangs. His work has yielded peaceful truces between rival gangs in Los Angeles, Chicago and El Salvador.
  • Javier O. Huerta is the recipient of the Chicano/Latino Literature Prize. Huerta authored “American Copia” and “Some Clarifications y otros poemas.” As a youth, he and his family ventured from Nuevo Laredo to Houston. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston, a master’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and a doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Henry A.J. Ramos is the executive director of Equal Voice Action, a national political action and membership organization for low-income and working class families. Ramos authored “The American G.I. Forum: In Pursuit of the Dream, 1948 – 1983” and served as co-editor on “Latino Young Men and Boys in Search of Justice: Testimonies” and “Overcoming Disparity: Latino Young Men and Boys.” Ramos is a founding editor of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University.

In addition to UHD and Arte Público Press sponsors include the City of Houston, the Houston Arts Alliance, the Houston Health Department, the Houston Public Library, Insight Center for Community Economic Development and the My Brother’s Keeper-Houston Movement.

Arte Público Press is the largest publisher of contemporary and recovered Hispanic literature in the country. In addition to publishing new and recovered literature, Arte Público publishes children’s books through its Piñata Books imprint. This publishing house is based at the University of Houston and is the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.

The My Brother’s Keeper Houston Movement was initiated by former Houston Mayor Annise Parker after accepting President Barack Obama’s community challenge in 2014. Led by Stephen Williams, director of the Houston Health Department, the initiative partners local non-profit organizations, city agencies, faith-based groups and other community organizations to provide programming and resources aimed at inspiring young people.