Diversity celebrated as Democratic National Convention welcomes first Latino keynote speaker
Charlotte, N.C. — “It’s a historic moment.”
This was how Cecilia Muñoz described what it meant for Julián Castro to take the stage as the first Latino keynote speaker at a Democratic National Convention, or DNC, Tuesday night.
Castro, the current mayor of San Antonio, Texas, is not only taking a huge step for the Latino and minority parties, but his presence also is reflective of President Barack Obama’s ideals, said Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
“The mayor and his brother come from a family of modest means, a tradition of public service and of fighting for the middle class and for people who are trying to reach the middle class,” Muñoz said. “It’s a reflection of the middle class, and it’s a great reflection of what the president is fighting for.”
In his speech, Castro talked about multiplying the success of Americans by securing jobs and focusing on the middle class.
He then offered up a comparison with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“It’s a choice between a nation that slashes funding for our schools and guts Pell grants, or a nation that invests more in education,” Castro said.
Lupe Ramos-Montigny, a delegate from Grand Rapids, Mich., and second vice chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, said as a Hispanic American, it is a special day at the DNC.
“I am pretty happy — we are celebrating that he will be the first Hispanic ever to speak as a keynote speaker at a national convention,” Ramos-Montigny said. “We are very happy about the progress we have made. We are celebrating that we have reached another milestone and being included in the convention.”
Ramos-Montigny is one of eight Hispanic-American delegates, alternate delegates and PLEO and unplugged delegates representing Michigan at the convention, according to data provided by the Michigan Democratic Party.
As a whole, Michigan has delegates who identify themselves as Asian American, Arab American, Native American and African American and Hispanic American.
Michigan delegate Rosa Holliday, from Bay City, Mich., said she has been to six conventions, and Michigan has always had a very diverse delegation party.
“As far as the Michigan delegation goes, we have always had that,” Rosa said. “We are all represented because (everyone) knows that we all have a voice.”
In his speech Castro addressed all delegates, regardless of race, ethnicity or minority status, and focused on the ways that all Americans can move the country forward.
“Ours is a nation like no other — a place where great journeys can be made in a single generation,” Castro said. “No matter who you are or where you come from, the path is always forward.”
Luis Miguel Zarco, the co-president of C.R.U., a Latino student organization at MSU, described the nation as a melting pot — a place rich in diversity where everyone brings great “flavors” and different things from other cultures.
Zarco, a Hispanic American, said he feels this effect has trickled down to MSU.
“(MSU is) a very diverse place,” Zarco said. “It’s good to see that all cultures are celebrated and we are all being brought together and celebrate everything that makes us different.”