NHLA Demands Apology from Kennedy Center
WASHINGTON, D.C.- The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 30 national Latino organizations, has written to Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein to express its outrage at Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser’s use of profanity to one of its member leaders, Felix Sanchez, Chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.
“The fact that Latino artists have been locked out of the Kennedy Center Honors for more than one-third of a century is condemnable,” said Hector Sanchez, Chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda , “and using profanity to escape responsibility is despicable. The NHLA approached the Kennedy Center in an effort to engage in a constructive dialogue regarding the underrepresentation of Latinos, and was met with derision, expletives, and an unwillingness to even discuss potential solutions. It is only because of the Kennedy Center’s refusal to engage in substantive conversation regarding these issues that the NHLA is taking these steps.”
“There is no excuse for Mr. Kaiser’s outburst and it should not and cannot be tolerated. He profoundly disrespected our colleague Felix Sanchez and the Latino community, a community that merits inclusion and fairness, not insults, when it comes to one of the nation’s highest cultural honors. At the very least, Kaiser owes Mr. Sanchez and our community a sincere apology and it is our hope that the Kennedy Center will take disciplinary action in light of such unacceptable behavior,” stated Janet Murguìa, NCLR President and CEO.
In a telephone call nearly two weeks ago between NHFA Chairman Felix Sanchez and Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser concerning the 10th consecutive year without a Latino Kennedy Center Honoree, Mr. Kaiser told Mr. Sanchez to “f---k yourself” and hung up on him. In letters sent last week, NHFA and NHLA called on Kennedy Center executives to replace the current producers of the Kennedy Center Honors. The organizations also have asked the President and First Lady to stop participating in Kennedy Center Honor ceremonies until the matter is adequately resolved.
Established in 1991, The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) brings together Hispanic leaders to establish policy priorities that address, and raise public awareness of the major issues affecting the Latino community and the nation as a whole. For more information, please visit www.nationalhispanicleadership.org.