JSN is a Progressive Latino youth movement founded in Pittsburgh, PA in 2009. The majority of the youths are first generation Latinos from Mexico, South America and the Caribbean and are supported by community activists, artists and academics. Through their activities and projects they aspire to draw attention to an emergent community largely unrecognized by the wider Pittsburgh community. While Latinos are the city’s fastest growing immigrant population, they remain invisible to the larger population. This group thus strives to inform Pittsburgh’s public about Latino culture and the ways American, Latin American and Latino histories are intertwined. They also aspire to strengthen Latino youths’ civic engagement in Pittsburgh by encouraging their participation in the public sphere through projects in the arts that allow them to explore the relationship between their cultural traditions and the history of the city they now consider home. Such engagement has the potential to empower Latino youths in the city by helping them foster meaningful connections with the wider community and granting them civic, political and artistic agency. It is also their hope to elicit new ways of thinking about issues and misconceptions that are at the heart of urgent national (and more recently local) debates on the border and immigration. As Allegheny County struggles to keep residents from leaving the region, JSN has the potential to help reclaim the city’s historical legacy as a “city of immigrants” by demonstrating the valuable contributions of young immigrants to our city and hopefully encourages other groups to feel welcome and remain here.
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