Bringing Latinos To the Table
In the summer of 2000, a fleet of dark, unmarked vehicles pulled up to the North Philadelphia office of the Rev. Luis Cortes Jr. As neighbors watched in amazement, armed men hustled a mysterious visitor inside. What happened next launched the remarkable ascent of a Hispanic Baptist minister until then little known outside Philadelphia. The visitor was G.O.P. presidential candidate George W. Bush, on a low-profile visit to woo Cortes and other Hispanic leaders. Over the next few hours, Cortes and Bush formed a bond that has vaulted the minister to the top tier of the fast-growing Hispanic Protestant community. With grants from Bush's Faith-Based Initiative and the cachet that comes from his Bush connection, Cortes, now 47, has expanded his two-decade-old organization, Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) nationwide, building houses in poor communities, offering start-up loans to Hispanic businesses and launching an aids-awareness program. In 2002 Cortes established the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, addressed annually by Bush and attended by a bipartisan slate of political heavyweights. "Part of integrating is understanding power," says Cortes. "Our people have power, but they have never used it." Now he's showing them how.
Next James Dobson