A Celebration Of Latino Entertainment

09/16/2011 07:27 am ET | Updated Nov 16, 2011

This week marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is proud to help kick off our community's celebration with the NCLR ALMA Awards® airing tonight at 8:00 p.m. on NBC.

Tonight's show is not just another awards show; it is recognition of how far Latinos have come in an industry that has not always had the best record of diversity. NCLR has also long understood the power of the media and we created the ALMA Awards more than a decade ago to help tell the Latino community's story. The show celebrates the amazing variety of Hispanic talent and culture in the United States and has been an instrumental launching pad for so many emerging Latino artists, both in front of and behind the camera. The ALMAs also underscore the power of diversity, which strengthens our country and the entertainment industry as a whole.

We believe that celebrating the stars in our community--those in front of and behind the camera, as well as the millions who work tirelessly to serve our community and their fellow Americans every single day--is a truly appropriate and meaningful way of commemorating the Latino community's most important month.

There are so many other reasons why it's important to watch the show tonight. The Latino community has faced several challenges this year, but 2011 has also been a historic turning point for Hispanics. The Census results confirm that we are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the country. One of every six Americans is Latino. What's even more significant is that one of every four Americans under the age of 18 is Hispanic.

We are not only the largest ethnic group--we are the fastest-growing group of voters, the fastest-growing market, and the fastest-growing group of media consumers. With a trillion dollars' worth of financial clout, we are a formidable economic power.

It's time for us to make the rest of the country aware of the talent and power of the Hispanic community and for us to showcase the diversity, reach, and value of Latinos in this country.

This year we have a new home on NBC, and a breathtaking array of talent on the show, from today's emerging stars in Latino entertainment like Pitbull and Demi Lovato to legends in our community like Gloria Estefan, Benjamin Bratt, and Edward James Olmos.

The ALMAs reaffirm the major role Latinos have in today's America and will play in the future of this nation. Through the NCLR ALMA Awards, we will help tell that story and work to make sure others do as well, but we need you, too. Text, tweet, and post on Facebook to urge your family, friends, and social media pals to watch tonight's show. And if you like what you see tonight, support our Hispanic talent--watch that TV show, go to that movie, buy that music, or attend that concert.

If we want to see more Latinos in front of and behind the camera, we need to vote with our pocketbooks. We must support diversity in Hollywood until it reflects the diversity of our great nation.