Washington, D.C. – The Unity Luncheon at the 87th Annual National LULAC Convention reflected the strength in diversity of our country today. Addressing the crowded ballroom at the Washington Hilton were Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; HUD Secretary, Julian Castro and EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy.
After a “dreamer” from Texas, Lizeth Urdiales, recounted her personal plights, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate spoke out about the negativity and prejudice arising in this year’s election.
“Donald Trump is running the most divisive campaign of our lifetime, We’ve got to come back twice as strong and twice as clear. We’ve got to say, with one voice, that Latinos are a vital part of the community. All of us are equal. Judge Curiel is an American. Lizeth is an American. We are all Americans,” Clinton said.
“I hear you. I see you. I am with you. We need to inspire a level of voter turnout…that will lead to more support of leaders at all levels of government,” she added. “I need you at my side. This is your election. The work that LULAC is doing to help register voters is so critical. When you leave this conference, go home and figure out what you can do as part of the LULAC voter registration movement.”
When Clinton ended her 30-minute speech that covered crucial issues to the Latino voter, such as jobs and equal pay for women and minorities, immigration reform and keeping families together, a group of LULAC representatives joined Members of Congress on stage with Clinton, carrying placards that said, “I am American,” and “Juntos Se Puede.”
“LULAC was honored to have the first woman to lead a major party ticket address our national convention,” said LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha, Jr. “We were pleased to hear Secretary Clinton’s vision and her plans to address the issues of importance to the Latino community.”
This is not the first time that Clinton, Castro and McCarthy address LULAC convention attendees. However, during this election year, their remarks were of even greater importance. Since 1929, LULAC has mobilized voters, and united our diverse voters across party lines, to advocate for the most critical issues affecting us.
“I join you today as a beneficiary of the amazing work that LULAC has done,” said HHS Secretary Julian Castro, who was the youngest mayor of a top 50 city, before serving twice with President Obama’s cabinet. Castro praised LULAC for opening the ballot boxes, desegregating schools and fighting for civil rights.
“Because of your efforts, I see a better America. A nation more open and accepting. There’s no question that over the years we’ve achieved a lot together as a nation. But I don’t have to tell you we have a ways to go. In this great nation, it shouldn’t matter where you were born, or what language you speak at home.”
He spoke of the recent tragedies in Dallas and Minnesota. “In the midst of our sorrow, there is a spark of hope. This generation is forging a new bottom line because they recognize the only label that matters isn’t liberal or conservative. It’s American.”
Brent Wilkes, LULAC’s executive director, acknowledged that people of Hispanic origin make up this nation’s largest ethnic minority, and voter block. Historically, poll taxes, literacy tests, and unfit polling sites were ever present challenges that were designed to deter our community from voting. “We still have a long way to go. It is reprehensible that any elected official, or candidate, harbor prejudices and attack the foundations of diversity that built our great nation. Bigoted remarks and actions ultimately will generate greater response from voters uniting to fight for a diverse America.”
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke of the needs across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, that disproportionately affect Latinos, and other minorities.
“I am so grateful for our partnership. We are going to work with you, hand in hand. We can do such much together that we could never do on our own.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.