Follow Harriet on Twitter
NYT Looks to Walt Whitman as U.S. Centers on Immigration Reform
City Room was reminded that more than 100 years ago one of America’s greatest poets, Walt Whitman, offered his own reflection of the nation’s shifting population and in particular the role of people of Hispanic origin. In 1883, Whitman had been asked to participate in ceremonies marking the 333rd anniversary of the founding of Santa Fe. He could not attend, but instead sent a letter — published in The New York Times on August 7 of that year — to the organizers in which he discussed his views of what he called the “American identity” and the “Spanish stock” of the Southwest.
“It is certain to me that we do not begin to appreciate the splendor and sterling value of its race element,” Whitman wrote of the Spanish-speaking population. “Who knows but that element, like the course of some subterranean river, dipping invisibly for a hundred or two years, is now to emerge in broadest flow and permanent action?”
The full text of the original letter is at the NYT.