Monday, February 2, 2009

Gregg Ramos is Nashvillian of the Year

"Works tirelessly to make Nashville a better place for people of all races and backgrounds"

The Nashville Scene named Gregg Ramos its "Nashvillian of the Year" in a recent cover story.

The story mentions Ramos' part in the winning campaign against the "English only" charter amendment proposal, but authors Melissa Wozniak and Jim Ridley say that the honor goes beyond that:
Nor does Ramos get the nod because he's the single spokesperson for a monolithic bloc—"the face of Hispanic Nashville," or some such nonsense. Latinos make up a large segment of Nashville's population, to be sure, and growing every year. But within that "community" are factions and fractures along countless lines. Even on an issue as galvanizing as English Only, there has been disagreement among Hispanic Nashvillians over how best to oppose it, according to Nashville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Yuri Cunza—who says he himself has respectfully butted heads with Ramos over tactical matters.

Indeed, what makes Ramos our Nashvillian of the Year—and ironically something of a representative, however reluctantly—is what he brings to the city as an individual. The son of a Mexican immigrant, Ramos works tirelessly to make Nashville a better place for people of all races and backgrounds—whether through active participation in nonprofits as wide-ranging as United Way and the Tennessee Justice Center, or as recent board president of Catholic Charities, the humanitarian organization that helps everyone from senior citizens to immigrant newcomers, regardless of nationality.

His story makes him doubly compelling, as a man and as one single, solitary, specific member of a group frequently demonized en masse. Gregg Ramos, as you will find, is just your average baseball-loving, country-music-playing fluent English speaker—more fluent, in fact, than some English Only proponents we could name. He has woven himself into the American tapestry, so much so that Ramos, whose father initially spoke no English, has raised two college-educated children who speak little Spanish—a fact he admits with regret.
Image: Nashville Scene

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