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SEC commissioner speaks of Hispanic heritage

LAWRENCEVILLE — Luis Aguilar came to the United States as a refugee from Cuba when he was 6 years old.

Now a commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Aguilar said he is grateful to this country for giving him opportunities to pay his way through law school.

Aguilar was the keynote speaker Friday at the 2010 Hispanic Heritage Month Luncheon, held at Gwinnett Technical College and presented by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association. This was the sixth year GALEO has hosted the luncheon and the second it has been in Gwinnett, Executive Director Jerry Gonzalez said.

“Gwinnett County is very important,” Gonzalez said. “The largest Latino electorate is here, and the population density of Latinos in Gwinnett is significant as well.”

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends Friday, is a celebration of the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, according to the Library of Congress.

The speakers at Friday’s luncheon spoke about the importance of celebrating diversity.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, said America is a melting pot “stirred by the hand of diversity.”

“The Hispanic values of faith, family and love of country are all American values,” he said. “The (Hispanic) dream ... (and) hope for a more prosperous future is also the American dream.”