Juan Rangel understands how things work around here.

Just ten days ago the group he heads, the United Neighborhood Organization, the most powerful Hispanic group in Chicago, organized a rally at which thousands of people called on government officials to send more taxpayer funds to charter schools.

Yet Tuesday afternoon Rangel received rousing applause as he told a group of downtown professionals—most of them white—that the time has come for Hispanics to stop protesting and focus on improving themselves through assimilation, education, and political organizing.