Sadly, New York lost one of its most influential people when former-New York Governor Mario Cuomo passed away on the first day of the New Year. Passing away on the day his son, the 54th Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, the 52nd governor of New York from Queens, New York City was an accomplished governor of the city having held the governorship for three terms making him the longest running governor in New York history.
During his administration, Cuomo was known for walking a tight line between conservative and liberal ideologies, from cutting taxes that angered most democrats to creating social programs involving health care which upset republicans. Despite upsetting both political sides, Cuomo was approached about running for presidency however he decided to stay in his position as governor to New York. Cuomo is the definition of a true politician who was there for the people who elected him.
Since his passing, many news sources have been showcasing the numerous feats during Cuomo’s time as governor. One such moment that caught my eyes was when the governor gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention some 30 years ago, back in the 1980s. In his speech then, Cuomo critiqued the then president and his administration, President Ronald Reagan and the platform in-which he was running on.
Reagan’s platform detailed that American citizens did not have to worry about their families or their future in this country because America was a shining city on a hill, something that wasn’t entirely true, and Cuomo himself saw.
During his speech, Cuomo tried to show the risk of ignoring how the country is truly the tale of two cities. In his speech, Cuomo tried to acknowledge how Americans living on the shining hill is not the entire American at the whole. He took his address at the convention to demonstrate how there is an entire section of America being ignored and needs to be corrected.
Cuomo shined a light on the ignored and overlooked citizens of America. Cuomo cast a light on the America citizens who were suffering under poverty, families were struggling to survive, students were unable to pay for their education, and the elderly faced a bleak and dark final stage of their lifetime.
In his address back in 1984, Cuomo warned those who were listening that with the success of the rich so would the increase of poverty rise for those stuck in it and those who would ultimately fall into it if not paid close attention to. As disheartening as he may have sounded then when he said, “there are more poor than ever; more families in trouble,” Cuomo was trying to wake up America—all of America—and prevent what is sadly occurring today.
But how does Cuomo’s words from 30 years ago relate to Latinos today?
According to the 2013 census data, it is believed that 1 in 6 Americans are currently living in poverty. Among the Latino community, 1 in 4 Latinos are living in poverty. While the economy is steadily, but really slowly, recovering things are particularly not getting easy. As the economy attempts to recover, and families within Latino communities and outside attempt to survive Congress isn’t helping matters by eliminating programs that keep Americans already burden by poverty from drowning in it.
On the matter of education, Cuomo noted the one reason why many young Americans are not becoming educated is because the cost of education is becoming too high. Since 1978, tuition fees have risen an estimated 1,120% and will continue to do so. For Latinos, young Latinos are expected to not obtain a four year education either due to status or cost alone. And those who do obtain an education are expected to acquire student-loan debts estimating over $25,000.
Although he is no longer with us, Cuomo’s words should not be forgotten:
Let’s hope someday the tale of two cities will eventually become one: a place of equality.