Over 15,000 people attended the LULAC 88th National Convention and Exposition in San Antonio, Texas in July. LULAC’s origins can be traced back to South Texas during a time when Mexican Americans faced rampant discrimination and the Hispanic community’s access to resources, jobs, and a quality education was limited. For over 88 years, LULAC has helped advance change for Latinos by working with its vast grassroots volunteer-based membership, and the national convention is another opportunity for LULAC to help ensure that the organization continues to advocate for the best policies for the future of the Latino community.
Throughout the four days of the national convention; workshops, town hall meetings, and seminars addressed such important issues as the U.S.-Mexico border wall, mass deportations, SB 4 and the new administration’s cutbacks on education, health care, and community services. Elected officials, issue experts, and community leaders provided important information and useful resources regarding these key areas of concern for the Latino community.
Among the keynote speakers who addressed the convention included U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) President and General Counsel Thomas Saenz, Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee Maria Elena Durazo, and Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.
Another critical component of the convention was the Federal Training Institute (FTI) —an intensive and structured career development program for government employees. The FTI provided emerging leaders with workshops on community service, leadership development, career opportunities, and advocacy training.
The convention also included a screening of the documentary, “Dolores,” depicting the life and struggles of civil rights and farmworker advocate Dolores Huerta. In addition, the Mexican government bestowed its highest honor, the Ohtli Award, to Luis Roberto Vera, esq. Vera, who worked closely with MALDEF, ACLU and other groups to be the first to file a complaint against SB4, has served as LULAC’s general counsel for 19 years.
The convention also featured an exposition that included government agencies, colleges and universities, labor unions, armed forces, and nonprofit organizations displayed their products and services to the community. The youth participated in the free baseball clinic with Luis Roberto Clemente, and health buses for veterans provided free consultations and screenings. The exposition also included a career fair, where young people discussed job opportunities with corporations.
The Voces Unidas Concert featured a Selena Music Tribute with Pete Astudillo and Isabel Marie and performances by members of War, Tierra, Malo, El Chicano, Sapo, Aibel and the Prophets and Willie G, Richard Bean, and Fred Sanchez of El Chicano.
Founded in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens is the nation’s oldest and largest Hispanic organization. The non-partisan organization is comprised of more than 1,000 LULAC councils representing citizens across the U.S. and Puerto Rico that advocate for civil rights, education, economic development, immigration and equal opportunity.