John Quiñones — creator and host of the thought-provoking ABC series “What Would You Do?” — inspired and challenged the crowd Tuesday during the second annual Agosto Diversity Lecture hosted by South Texas College of Law Houston’s Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center.
“We were delighted to have John Quiñones bring such powerful insights and encouragement to our audience during the Agosto Diversity Lecture,” said South Texas Law President and Dean Michael F. Barry. “Through his stories, he helped people better understand the impact of discrimination and racism in everyday life.”
Quiñones, born in San Antonio, described the journey that took him from a migrant farm worker living in poverty to an Emmy-winning journalist with ABC News and the host of a show that explores the moral and ethical underpinnings of our society.
During the lecture titled, “What Would You Do? Ethics, Discrimination, and Racism,” he shared inspiring stories and life lessons from his decades as a hard-core reporter, including his work covering violence in Nicaragua and other Central American conflicts.
One life lesson came from a mistake he made at age 27 while working closely with national news anchor Peter Jennings.
“I had gotten word that I could interview the president of Nicaragua, and I called it in and got a spot saved for it on the evening news,” Quiñones said. “Shortly after I hung up, the interview was canceled. I was young, and Peter Jennings was intimidating, and I thought for sure I would get yelled at or fired. Instead, Jennings said, ‘Young man, this is going to happen to you in your career, where someone important promises you something and doesn’t follow through. Those movers and shakers can call a press conference and talk to the world. Instead, talk to the moved and the shaken; give a voice to those who don’t have one.’ ”
Quiñones took that advice to heart, adding, “I’ve spent my life trying to do that.”
In his lecture, Quiñones encouraged the audience, which included many law students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the community to believe in themselves even when no one else does. He also described some of the ethical dilemmas presented on “What Would You Do?” — including the different treatment people received in situations based on how they were dressed, their ethnicity, and their overall presentation.
The crowd gathered for photos and autographs with Quiñones during the reception. One guest shook the speaker’s hand, and with tears in his eyes added, “Your life has inspired me.”
This annual lecture is presented by the Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center at South Texas College of Law Houston. The center was made possible by a generous donation from alumnus Benny Agosto, Jr. ’95 and his wife Nichole, and they continue to support and attend the center’s events — visiting with and inspiring South Texas Law students.
For more photos from the event, click here: Agosto Center for Diversity – Fall 2023 Lecture
For more DEI resources, click here: Benny Agosto, Jr. Center for Diversity
Click here to check out Elissa Rivas’ ABC13 story.
Click here to listen to Michael Haggerty’s Houston Public Media feature.