This past December 6th, Florida International University and the School of International and Public Affairs SIPA had the pleasure of hosting a book presentation at the FIU Barnes & Noble store by US Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who offered a short lecture followed by a book signing. Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill is a candid and savvy autobiography, where Congressman Gutierrez tells of his journey from picking coffee beans to driving a cab- to landing a surprising career in American politics.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez gave the audience a brief insight into his life as he recounted some of his struggles while growing up as a minority in the 1960s in Chicago. As a Puerto Rican, Gutierrez shed some light on the discrimination he and his family encountered in Chicago when he decided to begin his political career by running for congress in 1993. Despite the hardships, Gutierrez persevered and became the first Latino from the Midwest to be elected to congress. He has since been an effective legislator who has advocated for Latino and immigrant communities.
Congressman Gutierrez also spoke about the DREAM act and its implications for institutions of higher learning. Congressman Gutierrez has been at the forefront of the effort to pass the historic bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation and helped guide the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to passage in the House of Representatives in 2010. This bill allows alien minors to pursue an education despite their current immigration status.
Congressman Gutierrez ended his lecture on a light note and then took questions from the audience. Because of the closeness of the date to the passing of Nelson Mandela, one student asked if Congressman Gutierrez could point out any similarity between what he is doing for Latinos and what Nelson Mandela did for his people. Humbled, Congressman Gutierrez said, “If there was one thing I learned from Mandela is to be consistent and persistent and that sooner than later, we will prevail. Mandela was able to use power to change lives for the better, and I can only hope to strive to do the same.”