As the country braces for one of the silliest and most controversial political conventions to hit the news cycle in a generation, we’re happy to report that another saner and more substantive convention took over DC last week in the name of Latino USA. Held every year by the League of United Latin American Citizens, the LULAC convention brought together some of the country’s most illustrious Latinos to talk out the issues that matter to us, while also giving non-Latino politicians the chance to make their case to our growing national community.
Founded in 1929 to support Mexican-American advancement in Texas, LULAC is the country’s oldest and most esteemed Latino civil rights organization, with a platform that focuses on community empowerment through education. Much like the NAACP, LULAC’s membership has waned through the years as our understanding of civil rights has changed, but their OG status means that LULAC continues to be one of the most important civil rights platforms for Latinos in US politics.
As usual, this year’s convention brought together LULAC delegates from across the country to vote on their leadership structure, while also featuring an impressive showcase of Latino talent and leadership. Rising political stars like Boricua Miguel Joey Alves shared a stage with established heavy-hitters like Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro.
A handful of A-list Latino actors and musicians added a little dazzle to the otherwise buttoned-up affair, including Rosie Perez and Diane Guerrero, while top political operators from Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to Attorney General Loretta Lynch stopped by to spread love the DC way. Here’s a rundown of what you missed.
Edward James Olmos Felt the Bern
“[Bernie is] one of the most inspirational politicians that has come up in recent memory. No one has done more to bring out young voters than this one single human being. I say to this man from the bottom of my heart: you are the reason we have hope!”
EJO has never been quiet about his political activism. From founding Latino Public Broadcasting, to serving as an ambassador for UNICEF, and even standing with Puerto Ricans during the Vieques Protests, he’s an unapologetically vocal advocate for Latino civil rights in the US. Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that he was proudly feeling the Bern when he introduced the candidate to a crowd of enthusiastic attendees.
Hillary Clinton Shouted Out Afro-Latinos
“Whether you’re Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Afro-Latino, from Central or South America, whether your family has just arrived or has been here since before the United States even existed, we are brothers and sisters, and I will be your champion.”
Clinton hopped on the woke bandwagon with her 30-minute speech last Thursday. After going through the obligatory talking points about immigration reform and Donald Trump, the Democratic presidential candidate dropped a knowledge bomb about Latino diversity that few US politicians can even wrap their mind around. The crowd went bananas.
Bernie Got Personal
“I myself know something about immigration. I am the son of an immigrant who came to this country at the age of 17. When my father came here he had no money, and could not speak a word of English… My father’s story, my story, the modern immigrant story, is the story of America, and it is a story that must be celebrated.”
Bernie also went through his usual stump-speech hallmarks as he made a considerably deflated post-campaign call to end economic inequality, with nods to immigration and criminal justice reform. The high point came toward the beginning when he reflected on a personal connection he feels with the Latino community. Unlike Hillary, though, Bernie was reluctant to delve into specificities, praising diversity in broad terms rather than getting to the nitty-gritty of the Latino experience.
Jaime Escalante’s Stamp Got Its World Premiere
We already reported that Jaime Escalante is the latest Latino face to make it onto a US postage stamp, but the official ceremony actually went down at the LULAC convention. It’s an appropriate venue given LULAC’s long-standing support for Latino advancement through education, and both Edward James Olmos, who played Escalante in Stand and Deliver, and Escalante’s son were on-hand to praise the educator’s grit and determination. The event was then topped off with a lively Bolivian dance in honor of the La Paz-born educator’s roots.
Sneak Peak of HBO’s 'Habla y Vota'
Expanding on their award-winning Habla series, which features hundreds of testimonials from diverse Latino voices, HBO’s Habla y Vota is a non-partisan one-hour documentary that seeks to bring Latino voices into the political process and inspire more participation from our community. The event featured Puerto Rican actress Jeimy Osorio, who has been a rising star since appearing as Celia Cruz in the Telemundo novela Celia.
AB Quintanilla and Gilberto Santa Rosa Lit Up the Beltway
Yes, this happened. The Kumbia All Starz and Gilberto Santa Rosa shared a stage at the convention’s closing ceremony. If anyone has access to Hillary Clinton’s private Instagram account, please include photos of her dancing in the comments.