Sonia Sotomayor Helping Develop Civics Education-Related Video Games

Sonia Sotomayor is raising the game of children nationwide…

The 63-year-old Puerto Rican Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the first Latina to serve in that role, is helping develop video games to mold the minds of young students.

Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor – who sits on the board of iCivics (a nonprofit that promotes civics education) – envisioned a Spanish-language computer game that could make the subject more accessible to English learners.

The topic is often difficult for English learners, because the books are dense and written in academic language. In 2011, her idea became a reality with a game titled Do I Have a Right?, which has a Spanish-language version, ¿Tengo Algún Derecho?

Since its launch, it’s successfully helped English learners connect with civics material, according to NBC News.

Research shows that knowledge of civics leads to more engaged citizens. This means they’ll be more likely to vote and to understand what their rights are. In Do I Have a Right? players run their own law firms and take on pro-bono cases for clients who believe they have had their rights violated. Each game is about a half an hour long, and doesn’t feel as laborious as reading a chapter of a textbook.

Students have vouched for the game. For 12-year-old Yosviel, who arrived to the United States in March 2016, it allows him to learn about his rights in a fun way. “The games allow me to learn about the rights that I have as a citizen; to me that is important since I am a new immigrant,” he told NBC News. “The games are also very entertaining and much more fun than traditional homework.”

Teachers have similarly seen how this game makes a difference, which is what Sotomayor was shooting for. “Supporting students is a cause very near to my heart,” she said. “We need all young people engaged in the future of our democracy. Initiatives such as this one mark an important step towards ensuring that, no matter what language they speak, all young people have access to the knowledge and skills they need to fully participate in those important conversations.”

 

Sotomayor to Participate in Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

Prepare for justice this New Year… Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that is.

The 59-year-old Puerto Rican U.S. Supreme Court justice, the first Hispanic justice, will lead the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button to signal the descent of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball during this year’s annual celebration, according to organizers.

Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor, who was appointed to the court in 2009, is a native of the Bronx.

The giant New Year’s Eve ball is covered in more than 2,600 crystal triangles and lit from within by more than 32,000 lights.

The ball drop will be covered live on networks including ABC, NBC, Fox and CNN.

Justice Sotomayor Swears In Vice President Joe Biden

Sonia Sotomayor has managed to etch her name in history once again…

The 58-year-old Puerto Rican Supreme Court Justice, the first Hispanic person to join the nation’s highest court, administered the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday morning, making her the first Hispanic to swear in a president or vice president.

Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor was personally selected by Biden to do the honor.

“From the first time I met her, I was impressed by Justice Sotomayor’s commitment to justice and opportunity for all Americans, and she continues to exemplify those values today,” said Biden. “Above all, I’m happy for the chance to be sworn in by a friend – and someone I know will continue to do great things.”

Sotomayor administered the oath before attending to another responsibility on that day: signing copies of her new autobiography at a New York City bookstore just a few hours later.

Biden’s office scheduled the swearing-in for 8:00 am ET to give Sotomayor enough time to catch a train for a three-hour ride to New York, where she was due to speak at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Manhattan at 2:30 pm and sign copies of her memoir, My Beloved World.

Sotomayor’s schedule was squeezed, however, when the private ceremony at the vice president’s Naval Observatory residence began more than 20 minutes late after a Mass for Biden’s friends and family.

Before Sotomayor departed, Biden made clear he appreciated her sticking around to give him the oath of office.

“I wanted to explain to you what a wonderful honor it was and how much out of her way the justice had to go,” Biden said after the short event attended by family and about 120 guests.

“She is due in New York. She has to leave right now, so I apologize,” Biden said. “We are going to walk out, you see her car’s waiting so she can catch a train I hope I haven’t caused her to miss.”

Despite the time constraints, Sotomayor delivered the vice presidential oath flawlessly before noon on Sunday, the day mandated by the constitution for the president’s official term to begin.

Biden and Sotomayor will do it all one more time on Monday, at the public inauguration ceremony on Capitol Hill in front of a crowd that could reach 800,000 people.

Blanco Named 2013 Presidential Inauguration Poet

Richard Blanco is about to have a presidential experience…

The 44-year-old Cuban American writer has landed the role of a lifetime, 2013 presidential inauguration poet.

richard-blanco

Blanco, the 44-year-old son of Cuban exiles, will join the ranks of legends like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost.

“I’m beside myself, bestowed with this great honor, brimming over with excitement, awe, and gratitude,” Blanco said in a statement released by the inaugural committee.

“In many ways, this is the very stuff of the American Dream, which underlies so much of my work and my life’s story —America’s story, really. I am thrilled by the thought of coming together during this great occasion to celebrate our country and its people through the power of poetry.”

Blanco‘s selection as the poet of President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony marks several firsts. He’s the first Hispanic, gay and the youngest person to be chosen as the inaugural poet.

Blanco’s selection also comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that Vice President Joseph Biden had chosen Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the high court, to swear him in at the inauguration.

Sotomayor is the first Hispanic to swear in a president or vice president.

“I’m honored that Richard Blanco will join me and Vice President Biden at our second Inaugural,” Obama said, according to the committee statement.

“His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers. Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity,” Obama added.

Blanco’s works explore his family’s exile from their native country and “the intersection of his cultural identities as a Cuban-American gay man,” the inaugural planners said.

Blanco was born in Spain to a mother who worked as a bank teller and a father who was a bookkeeper.

The New York Times said in a story about the poet that he was named after Richard Nixon, admired by Blanco’s father because of the Republican president’s strong opposition to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Blanco moved to New York City with his parents when he was an infant, and then moved to Miami, where he was raised and educated. He worked as a consultant engineer while he pursued his poetry, and in 1999 joined the creative writing faculty at Central Connecticut State University until 2001. He later taught in various places, including American and Georgetown universities.

The inaugural committee noted that “Blanco’s career as an English-language Latino poet gained momentum when his first collection, City of a Hundred Fires, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh.”

His second book of poetry, Directions to The Beach of the Dead, won the PEN American Center Beyond.

Sotomayor Holds Court on Sesame Street…

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is holding court on Sesame Street…

The 57-year-old Puerto Rican Associate Judge, the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court, heard the case of Goldilocks v. Baby Bear in a new video on the Sesame Street Youtube page.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Over a cup of coffee with her friend Maria, Justice  Sotomayor—who has served on the Supreme Court since her appointment by President Obama in August 2009—doled out some justice in the case.

“Does the Justice think it was right for Goldilocks to come into my house — uninvited, mind you — sit in my chair and break it?” Baby Bear asked Sotomayor, who replied, “I’m not sure” and said she needed to hear from Goldilocks.

Goldilocks led with an apology—hardly a strong defense strategy—before saying she “didn’t mean to break it” and adding that she “was tired and it was the only chair that fit just right.”

But the argument stuck with Sotomayor, who told Baby Bear that “it was an accident” that Goldilocks broke the chair. “And accidents do happen,” she noted. When Baby Bear noted that his chair was still broken, Sotomayor told Goldilocks to help him glue it back together.

The 42nd season of Sesame Street will focus on science, math and engineering education.

HBO Presents “The Latino List”…

This Hispanic Heritage Month, HBO will present a new documentary that offers an enlightening look into the “Latino experience” by presenting highly personal video portraits of Latinos who’ve positively influenced the fabric of contemporary society.

Entitled “The Latino List,” the funny, poignant and irreverent conversations help shine a spotlight on what it means to be a Latino in the United States today.

Directed by acclaimed photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, who directed three editions of HBO’s “The Black List,” the documentary features a diverse range of prominent Latinos from music, science, journalism, theater, politics, business and government.

“The Latino List is an extension of my previous films, which all deal with identity, struggle and achievement,” says Greenfield-Sanders. “We wanted famous names, of course, but also stories from people whom you might not know about,” said Greenfield-Sanders. “I’m very proud of the film and think it has a great emotional resonance.”

Featured interviewees include: Acclaimed writer Sandra Cisneros; Grammy-winning singer Gloria Estefan; Golden Globe-winning actress America Ferrera; NASA astronaut Jose Moreno Hernandez; military veteran Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch; actor/writer/producer John Leguizamo; actress Eva Longoria; U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ); rapper Pitbull; PGA golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez; ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero; radio host Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; financial advisor Julie Stav; and scholar Dr. Marta Moreno Vega.

Conducted by NPR’s Latino USA anchor Maria Hinojosa, the interviews with the 15 power players discuss the childhood inspirations that fueled their ambitions, how they achieved success, the evolving American cultural landscape they helped mold, the importance of preserving a distinct cultural identity for future generations to embrace, the challenges of discrimination and more.

HBO Latino will broadcast “The Latino List” on Wednesday, September 28 on at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. Meanwhile, the main HBO channel will air the documentary on Thursday, September 29 at 8:00 pm.