Stand and deliver
Actor, activist addresses students, hispanic community
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 01:09
Academy Award-nominated actor and social activist Edward James Olmos was warmly welcomed to Aggieland as he came to engage students and discuss important issues with his own touch of drama and comedy.
Olmos was invited to the University by the Committee for the Awareness of Mexican-American Culture to be the keynote speaker for the opening ceremony Monday for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Olmos is known for his roles in “Stand and Deliver,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “Selena.” Outside of acting, Olmos is involved in social activism for the betterment of the Latin community.
Prior to Olmos’s speech, President R. Bowen Loftin shared some historical facts with the audience about Hispanic history at A&M. Loftin said Hispanics have been involved with the school since its beginning.
“The history of Tejanos and Hispanics in Texas is the history of Texas A&M,” Loftin said. “They came from all kinds of backgrounds, came here to become part of this great Aggie family.”
Loftin said the influence of the Hispanic community is still felt today as their presence on campus continues to grow.
“Now there are 8,160 Latinos here at Texas A&M — almost 20 percent of the student body,” Loftin said. “His month recognizes the extraordinary contributions of Latinos for this state and this school, and certainly this nation.”
After Olmos was welcomed by the crowd with cheers and “whoops,” he responded with a “whoop” of his own. Olmos expressed his appreciation for A&M and Aggie football before settling into his speech, which covered topics ranging from the Latino community in the country, race relations across the globe and the importance of education.
Olmos shared his experiences he’s had with issues — such as the Dream Act — directly impacting the Hispanic community, but said the difficulties associated with them have made individuals stronger.
“I’ve been with a lot of the Dream Act kids. I told them, ‘You’re so lucky to have been able to understand your life in the way you understand it,” Olmos said. “It has been so difficult that it’s made you even stronger now.”
Olmos said he made those individuals a promise — a promise he applied to everyone in the audience — to pass that strength on to others.
“Promise me that when you’re at the full understanding of yourself and you’re at the top of your game and you’re really doing well and you’re really the best teacher you can be, grab the children from your culture and educate them,” Olmos said.
Olmos said those in the audience should fully realize their educational potential, which in turn will positively impact others.
“You’ve got to doctorate. Discipline yourself to go that extra mile,” Olmos said. “Do it because you’re not only going to help yourself and your family but everybody around you. Everybody will benefit from that.”
Olmos also spoke about the issue of race, saying there isn’t one national holiday dedicated to someone of Latin descent.
“If it wasn’t for Martin Luther King there isn’t one person of color we say thank you to in this country,” Olmos said. “There are no national heroes of Latin descent. We know many that should be.”
Olmos didn’t hesitate — as noticed by students such as junior kinesiology major Evan Boullosa — to speak about sensitive topics that could be viewed as controversial.
“He addressed sensitive topics responsibly but didn’t pull punches,” Boullosa said. “The speech was given with such confidence and sincerity that it was easy to side with him.”