Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Super Week for the South Bronx

The New York Yankees went on a winning streak at their new stadium last week, and two products of the neighborhood have scored big on the political scene--Colin Powell in a challenge to save the Republican Party from Dick Cheney and today Sonia Sotomayor as President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court.

As the confirmation buzz starts, Americans will get to know much more about the new nominee, potentially the first Hispanic on the Court, but for a start, Judge Sotomayor grew up near Yankee Stadium and, in one of her first notable cases as a jurist in 1995, ended the Major League baseball strike by ruling against the owners for trying to subvert collective bargaining in labor negotiations.

In the past half century, the South Bronx has become the poster child for urban poverty and devastation but, as a product of that neighborhood, I can testify that, through generations of Eastern European refugees, African-Americans and Hispanics, it has also housed families with a burning desire to educate their children into the American Dream.

In the era of Barack Obama, efforts to improve life in such communities are part of the national agenda, and the emergence of such figures as the new Supreme Court nominee foreshadows the dividends that those investments could be paying in the future.

Update: In announcing the selection of Judge Sotomayor, President Obama praised her "rigorous intellect, a mastery of the law” and added that it is vitally important that a justice know “how the world works, and how ordinary people live.”

Sotomayor described herself as "a kid from the Bronx." She sounds like all of the above.

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