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Madison365, a nonprofit online magazine, published a list of the most influential African-Americans in Wisconsin in October.(tncms-asset)7fb9c17c-c6b7-11e5-86ca-00163ec2aa77"}}

We wanted to highlight the diversity in our community and to give kids in Wisconsin a chance to see role models who are succeeding, to know it’s possible for African-Americans to achieve great things here. Several other local media outlets, including the Wisconsin State Journal, graciously assisted us in spreading that message.

The list wasn’t exhaustive, but it was the first of its kind. It started a conversation that had never really been had before. It went from, “Are there truly influential African-Americans?” to “Who got left off the list of most influential African-Americans?”

And very soon after that, it went to “Why is it only African-Americans?”

Before the full list of African-Americans was even published, I knew we’d be doing a list of powerful Latinos, as well. And I’m proud to present that list today, titled “Sí, se puede,” which means, “Yes, we can.”

As with our list of African-Americans, many of the people you’ll get to know here work tirelessly to improve the lives of people of color — especially their fellow Latinos. But we also highlight people wielding power and influence in other sectors who are Latino: leaders in law, finance, government, business and education.

I feel that is especially important to do now. Sadly, much of the public conversation about Latinos right now focuses on immigration and the hot-button political debate surrounding immigration — which comes with a lot of negativity. I want to highlight some Latinos doing great things in spite of all that noise, to show that Latinos touch every sector of our economy and our lives in positive ways.

My prayer for those I missed or neglected is — forgive my head, not my heart. Madison365 will do this list annually. Please nominate people you think should be on the list next year. Or people you feel I should meet.

Also remember this list is part of the overarching mission of Madison365: to let all voices be heard, and to bridge divides between communities. I hope we’re well on our way.

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Sanders Jr., of Madison, helped launch Madison365 last year. He is founder of the Madison Area Growth Network and Propel Wisconsin Innovation.

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