Open Letter to the Public:
Those familiar with the work of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) know that we are the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., and that we are an American institution committed to strengthening this great nation by promoting the advancement of Latino families. Our mission is to create opportunities and open the door to the American Dream for Latino and other families.
We proudly represent nearly 300 Affiliates—community-based organizations providing a range of essential services to millions of Latinos and others in need. Since 1997, NCLR and its Affiliates have helped more than 22,000 low-income Hispanic families purchase their first homes. In addition, NCLR’s network of 115 charter schools provides quality education to more than 25,000 Latino children every year. The health clinics we helped build and the lay health educators we trained provided care and information about prevention and detection of serious illnesses to nearly 100,000 people in 2006. Our Affiliates are working every day to help Hispanic immigrants integrate fully into American society by providing English-language classes, civics courses, and naturalization assistance.
NCLR is also among the most recognized organizations in the nonprofit sector. Our work in the health arena has been honored by the Surgeon General of the United States and numerous professional organizations. Among the many awards NCLR has received, both our former President/CEO and the immediate past Chair of our Board of Directors earned the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and The Nonprofit Times has recognized NCLR’s leadership with its coveted “Power and Influence Top 50” award, honoring the top 50 leaders shaping the nonprofit world. In addition, NCLR is featured alongside Habitat for Humanity and the Heritage Foundation in Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, a book that analyzes the practices of 12 nonprofit organizations that have successfully created social change (released in October 2007).
We recognize that some people might be confused about our organization’s name, our mission, and our work. Much of this is understandable. Compared to some of our venerable counterparts in the civil rights and advocacy community, we are a relatively young institution representing Latinos, a historically disadvantaged and often misunderstood ethnic minority. We have a Spanish term in our name, “La Raza” (meaning “the people” or “community”), which is often mistranslated. Furthermore, we are engaged in some of the most controversial issues of our time, which we believe is essential if we are to stay true to our mission.
As an advocacy organization engaged in the public arena, we know that some will disagree with our views. As Americans committed to basic civil rights, we respect anyone’s right to do so.
But it is also clear that some critics are willfully distorting the facts and deliberately mischaracterizing our organization and our work. Recently, we have been the subject of a number of ad hominem attacks that we believe cross the line of civility in public discourse.
At times, we have ignored these attacks, preferring to invest our precious time and resources in our work, believing that the quality of our labors speaks for itself. At other times, we have responded in a civil fashion through private correspondence or by requesting a meeting with a critic so we can discuss our differences. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do this in every case, especially when our private requests for civil discussion are responded to with further unfounded attacks, often echoed in the media as if they were accurate.
So, today we are engaging in an unprecedented step to make sure that the record is as clear and accessible as we can possibly make it. We do so in the interest of full disclosure and in the spirit of complete transparency. We trust that, after reviewing all of these materials, readers will come to their own conclusions about the merits of these and similar attacks to which we have been subjected.
President and CEO
National Council of La Raza
NCLR Responds: A Point-by-Point Analysis
The following are common misconceptions voiced about NCLR and our work. Please click on the links below for more information on NCLR’s response to each accusation.
1. The Translation of Our Name: National Council of La Raza
2. Support of Separatist Organizations
3. Reconquista and Segregation
4. Solely Hispanic-serving Programs
5. Border Security and Immigration
6. Full Disclosure of Our Lobbying Funds
7. Earmarking of Federal Funds
8. Other Issues
NCLR has published this extensive analysis because we trust readers to come to their own conclusions about the merits, or lack thereof, of our critics’ charges. View below what some other observers have concluded.
Letter from Rep. Gutierrez in support of NCLR against Rep. Norwood’s claims
Letter to Rep. Norwood from Reverend Timothy McDonald, Chair of African American Ministers in Action, requesting that he apologize for recent remarks made about NCLR
Commentary by Janet Murguía: “Latinos Don’t Have Secret Agenda”
Michelle Malkin: “The Race’ Schools: Your Tax Dollars at Work”
Janet Murguía’s response to Michelle Malkin: “She’s Wrong About My Group”
Mary Sanchez: “Dear Michelle Malkin: Study Spanish”
The Denver Post: “Hispanic Council Fighting Negative Perceptions of Purpose”
Southern Poverty Law Center: “What’s in a Name? The Defamation of the National Council of La Raza”
Media Matters for America: “Fear & Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News”