Many are aware of the statistic that has been consistently repeated since the 2000 Census – the Latino community is growing and will in a few decades comprise over a third of the United States population. But there are not too many efforts being made to find faces that adequately represent the Latino community. In fact, when surveyed about who the leaders are of the Latino community, people, both from within and from outside the Latino community, could not come up with a consistent answer, and oftentimes people could not even provide a name.
In light of Hispanic Heritage month (September 15th – October 15th), it is apropos to begin to create profiles of successful members of Latino community that have done a substantial amount to service their communities. It is important to begin these efforts to not only celebrate their achievements, but also to give proper recognition for all that they do in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
One such person is Johnny Marines, a retired NYPD sergeant and current manager of Latin music star Romeo Santos, formerly of the Bachata group, Aventura. Johnny Marines was raised in the Jacob Riis housing projects in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Johnny was not born with much, but thanks to his unrelenting work ethic, he has been able to successfully rise against insurmountable odds.
Yet, Johnny has never forgotten his humble roots. Johnny has made a consistent effort to improve the lives of the community that gave rise to him in LES. From sponsoring a free baseball league to providing hundreds of children school supplies and families turkeys for Thanksgiving, Johnny has maintained a constant presence in his community despite his mainstream success.
Johnny has even expanded his efforts to service those outside the LES. Johnny has begun to share his inspirational story in the hopes of motivating the next generation of leaders. Johnny has spoken to thousands of students, including speaking to those at Syracuse, Columbia and Harvard University.
From his humble beginnings, Johnny has persevered to being the manager of one of the top Latin American music artists in the world. Yet, it is his humility and his commitment to service that are most inspiring. Johnny’s story resonates with the American Dream narrative – the narrative that dictates that with hard work, anything is possible. But an addendum to this Dream narrative should be made to promote a more democratic and productive society. The American Dream should include a moral obligation for those that profit from the tremendous opportunities that this country offers, to give back to their communities to make it easier for others like them to follow in his or her footsteps. It is with this renewed conception in mind and through the example of Johnny Marines that it is safe to say that the American Dream is alive and well in the Latino community.