Social Inclusion

Article excerpt

Each of our heroes is an inspiring example of what can be achieved with determination and courage.

Social inclusion comprises multiple dimensions: economic opportunity, political rights, participation and representation, recognition, and access to social services. This special issue of Americas Quarterly refl ects this complexity, recognizing the advances that have occurred in civil rights, democracy and human rights, as well as the benefits produced by the expansion of effective social programs across the region. It also addresses the collective challenges that remain.

But there is perhaps no better way of capturing the hope and spirit that have fueled the progress of social inclusion than to highlight some of the people who have embodied it. Our special section on Heroes of Social Inclusion, starting on page 46, focuses on 20 individuals who have been agents of change in their societies. It's inevitably a limited list-our readers helped us select three, and there are certainly others-but each of our heroes is an inspiring example of what can be achieved with determination and courage. The legacy of U.S. civil rights leader and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (p.48) is assessed in a moving account by former President Bill Clinton. Other champions we spotlight include Benedita da Silva, who led the political struggle for Afro-Brazilians; and Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, who pioneered the idea of property rights as a vehicle for advancement of the poor. All of our heroes have had a dramatic effect on the lives of their compatriots-and on the hemisphere. …