U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez Appears at the
Wisconsin Book Festival
Still Fighting Strong
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez is a senior Latino
Congressman in Washington, D.C.
While many politicians write a memoir or policy book to set the stage for a run to a higher elected office, that’s not the reason Gutierrez
wrote Still Dreaming.
“You aren’t going to find the Luis Gutierrez thesis on how we solved global warming or the deficit or world hunger,” Guttierrez
emphasized. “You are going to read a lot of anecdotes woven together to give you a sense of my life. And hopefully, in each one of the
stories as we weave them together, there is something to be learned by my life experiences. We kept it upbeat. We try to take some of the
very incredible and wonderful serious things that happened, but at the same time, put them in the context that you can understand. One
thing about several things that happen to you in your life is that most of us know that if we are healthy adults and human beings that at
some point, we can look back at them and laugh. I want to say that there have been many experiences. So we wrote it with the tone that
would be lively and upbeat at all times.”
Gutierrez’s book is, in part, a peek inside the halls of Congress.
“I think you do get a sense of Congress and how it works,” Gutierrez said. “I relate in the book when we finally got to pass the Dream Act
in late 2010 and how it happened. You will read about how legislation gets done, how community groups confront politicians and how it
is that we make mistakes and how People Power actually exerts a positive influence that leads to more fairness and more justice. You
will read about that. But what we made sure that we left aside was any meanness to anyone. We talk about the positive contributions that
people make to the success of a fair and more just society without getting into picking winners and losers as we move forward. If you
were a winner, we included you.”
The book is also a story of hard work that hopefully other Latinos can read to get a perspective on what it takes to succeed.
“It’s another story of confronting and making America a place with less prejudice and less bigotry and more understanding of one
another,” Gutierrez said about the book. “I really, truly believe that in the end, it would be my hope that young people can see that and
believe that it wasn’t always easy. I thought about your question and I said to myself once, ‘Wow, many times they see me today and they
will see me on a Sunday morning talk show or they will pick up their copy of the Washington Post and they will think, Wow.’ I want them
to understand that the road to get there was many times difficult and treacherous, but it was worth it. I want them to understand that to
achieve much is to sacrifice too. “
It is also a story about hope.
“I think there is going to be a moment when immigration reform will get done,” Gutierrez said. “As I look at history, as I look at
movements for social justice in this country, whether it is the labor movement or the suffrage movement or the civil rights movement,
there are moments in which people step forward, leave aside their partisan bickering and fighting, leave aside their past doubts and
reservations and move forward to expand America and its fairness and its wealth to many others. And I think there is going to be that
moment. My hope is that we’re able to set aside our differences.”
Gutierrez’s story is about, in the end, what has made America a land of opportunity for all.
By Jonathan Gramling
U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez, who will be appearing as a part of the Wisconsin Book
Festival, is a fiery orator and uncompromising advocate for the cause of the vulnerable in
American society. It is a role that was forged in the crucible of Chicago politics and a
perspective that was given to Gutierrez by his immigrant parents.
Guitierrez’s parents moved to Chicago from Puerto Rico in the 1950s looking for
“I grew up in the segregated city of Chicago before there were civil rights and voting
rights acts, the kind of life that my mom and dad had where they worked hard and sweated
and toiled every day,” Gutierrez said. “And I saw how they had to take on discrimination,
bigotry and prejudice as they moved forward among hostility, yet persevere. My life is the
life of the son of migrants who migrated from Puerto Rico in 1953 with a grade school
education and no understanding of the language, but with a desire to improve their lives
and to give their children a better future.”
Gutierrez’s parents moved back to Puerto Rico in the late 1960s to protect them from the
political and other violence that was occurring in Chicago and the United States. And
Gutierrez came back to Chicago once more as an adult to go to school and to pursue his
life’s work, eventually being elected to the Chicago city council and then the U.S.
“The city I grew up in, the city of Chicago, was certainly not Mississippi or Alabama, but
there were certainly neighborhoods and beaches that you did not frequent,” Gutierrez said.
“There were neighborhoods that would not sell you a home. I still live in segregated
quarters in the city of Chicago and still have a very keen sense of being an outsider.
Coming to Congress and coming to fight and raising my voice for those who today are
most vulnerable amongst us — the new immigrants — is a natural transition from my own
And it is that experience that has made Gutierrez a leading advocate for comprehensive
“When I got to Congress, it was quite noticeable that the issue of immigration and
immigrant rights is not something that is in the forefront of people’s thoughts,” Gutierrez
said. “When I went to Congress, everywhere I went in my Congressional district, people
told me they wanted to become a citizen. ‘I need help with my brother.’ And I think that has
expanded to be the priority issue which I have been with here in the Congress of the
United States during the last 21 years.”
Gutierrez’s life is a story of fighting for what is right and determination to succeed in spite
of the barriers placed before him. And he has placed that life’s story, with the help of Doug
Scofield into a book called “Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill,”
published by W.W. Norton & Company.