Category: Blog

My name is Andrea Leon-Grossman. I immigrated from Mexico in September of 1993, and I am the first in my family to graduate and the first to become an activist.

I was fortunate to get a scholarship to go to Art School and graduated with a BFA in 1996. After graduating, I worked as a graphic designer at La Opinión newspaper and began the struggle of navigating the immigration system to keep my legal status. As a Mexican national it proved not to be a small feat.

I hired my first immigration attorney and had an awful experience. I realized it was not just the attorney – the system was fundamentally broken. But even though I had it tough, I realized there were many more who had it way tougher than me. I started talking to my representatives and got a caseworker. I became an activist.Andrea Leon

In 2001, I graduated with an MA from Syracuse University, and through that program I began getting real experience by working for non-profits.

Five years later when one of the most anti-immigrant bills appeared on the scene – it would have criminalized undocumented people in this country – I joined the march for immigrant rights in Los Angeles. Organizers were expecting about 100,000, but the final count was close to 750,000.

When advocates of the bill held town hall meetings to demonstrate that American people wanted undocumented immigrants to be deported, I tried to attend. As it turned out, the “public” event wasn’t as public as advertised, and only selected (anti-immigrant) speakers were allowed in. I stayed outside and became the de-facto spokesperson for the couple of immigrant rights groups that were in attendance.

I am now an Art Director, and I love my profession; but being able to speak up and be an activist is something that makes my heart beat louder, harder and faster. I am proud to be able to elbow my way into my representatives offices as much as being able to pitch a story to the media and shed light on important issues.

Nowadays, I am able to combine my profession and my passion working with NGOs and doing what I can to promote environmental justice and immigrant rights.

In 2011, nearly 18 years after I arrived to this country, I received the great news about getting my permanent residency, and earlier in 2016, 23 years after arriving to this country, I was sworn in as an American citizen. I will finally be able to vote in the country I live in!

Having personally gone through the immigration bureaucracy, through miles of red tape to acquire my solar rooftop and electric car as a way to protect the environment, I realized how deeply broken the system is and how many corporations are fighting to keep the status quo.

An obscene amount of money is spent in contributions to ensure elected officials will be in place who will keep corporations’ interests in mind. I am a firm believer that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem; so I chose to be part of the solution and got engaged.

I hope other Latinos also get civically active. Elected officials work for us, we need to remind them of that and hold them accountable.

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I grew up in Chelsea, MA in a proud Latino household. I am the daughter of a single mother who emigrated from Honduras to work in a factory making hot dogs. Her hard work allowed me to become the first in my family to go to college.

Growing up in Chelsea, Mass., I played in an empty lot littered with used syringes and trash.

My friends and I called it ‘War Zone.’ It was not an ideal playground, but it was better than the city’s parks, which were ruled by gangs. At an early age, I wondered why we had no access to small things like parks.

That wonder grew into a passion for community service, culminating in my recent election to Chelsea’s City Council, representing the Fifth District. I am the first millennial elected to the Council.

With almost zero political experience, I became the top vote-getter in the city’s primary; unseated the incumbent; and won the general election with 60 percent of the vote.

It was a historic election, with Latinos taking six of the 11 council seats, balancing what had historically been a mostly non-Latino council in a predominantly Latino city.

I made the decision to run for office because our local democracy was not representative of the people it served.  As a millennial and a Latina, I empathized with the struggles of my community. I wanted to represent their diverse voices.  

My candidacy was not about me, it was about embracing the vision and experiences of my constituents to improve local government.

I see city council as the frontlines of our democracy.  We make decisions that have an impact on people’s daily lives. We have the power to shape the effectiveness of the city, but that can only be achieved if we create a government that is inclusive.

I hope my first story inspires other Latinx millennials to get involved in local government and politics. We need young leaders to bring their ideas to the table, to be bold and dare to lead!

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He’s dressed in an elegant black tuxedo, projecting the refined charisma expected of a Hollywood leading man. Underneath the glamour, one can still discern the picaresque smile of his other self, the one that millions in Mexico and Latin America have come to know so well; the everyday man of the pueblo; the underdog who at the end of the story prevails over the powerful; the fast-talking pelado who could talk his way out of any kerfuffle by saying a lot without saying anything: Cantinflas.

As this nostalgic video clip of the 1956 “Around the World in 80 Days” premiere attests, Cantinflas shone among Hollywood’s top stars in a luxurious soirée fit for a film that became a box-office hit and received eight Academy Awards. If you’re a Mexican Golden Age film connoisseur, you will immediately spot Fortino Mario Moreno Reyes in two or three shots. These seconds of film captured more than a  historic moment. They captured a powerful statement quietly made by the movie star on behalf of the Mexican-American community, one that resonates today.

Billed as one of the top actors in the all-star “Around the World” ensemble that included David Niven and Marlene Dietrich (and a spectacular cameo by Frank Sinatra), Cantinflas stepped back into the spotlight at the 1957 Golden Globe Awards. Of note, the Mexico City native nabbed the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy. Loved by millions of fans in Mexico and Latin America who loved him for iconic films such as “Ahí está el detalle” and the political satire “Si yo fuera diputado,” Cantinflas became the first Mexican to win a Golden Globe years before the Del Toros, Iñárritus and Hayeks graced Hollywood with their talent. His victory was a significant step that carved a pathway for generations of Latino film and television artists in Hollywood.

If we broaden the scope of his accomplishment to include the historical context during which it happened, his victory is transformed from a milestone into a powerful symbol of pride for a community that suffered civil rights violations for decades. The Mexican-American community was also under direct attack in 1954 by politicians who decided to execute the infamous ‘Operation Wetback’ to deport millions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. During his big night at the 1957 Golden Globe Awards, Cantinflas, the activist, the philanthropist, the satirist, and defender of the downtrodden, outwitted those who sought to oppress his people. Those who erroneously believed that Mexicans and Hispanics were second-class citizens who did not deserve to stay in this country, scapegoats for imagined fears, likely witnessed Fortino Mario Moreno Reyes, who was born and raised in Mexico City, receive a top Hollywood award for his talent and genius.

Cantinflas’ triumph in the United States is an inspiration that transcends time. We are still fighting against anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric and against policies that oust us from a nation to which we have contributed our work, our talent, and our dreams. The beauty of this historical parallel is that we are all Cantinflas. Every day with our hard work we outsmart those who seek to marginalize us. ¿Cómo la ven desde ahi?

FIRSTS

“I believe in the power of education and voluntarism, and I owe it all to my mother, who was a single parent and didn’t make it to high school herself. Because of her, and the opportunities opened up to me through DACA, I now proudly serve my community though various democratic organizations including a previous Congressional internship with Rep. Jackson Lee. We must keep fighting to keep and expand DACA for those who are still in the shadows and don’t yet have the opportunity to contribute to society.”

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Latino Victory is packing its pop-up banners and posters and driving to Philadelphia to partake in the Democratic National Convention. While the majority of our time is spent working hard to ensure that Latinos are elected to office and to empower the Latino community, we also take time to host and attend events designed to offer a space for open dialogue and networking.

When we convene in Philadelphia—chilling out, maxing, relaxing, all cool*—Latino Victory will join giant Google, the German Marshall Fund and Latinos Unidos, an all-star list of Latino organizations, to host a variety of star-studded panels, receptions and a concert.

We are equally excited about all of the Latino events that will be showcased at the convention, and we would like to share with you a detailed list so that you can participate and make the most of this historic convention.

Of note, we want to highlight the Latinos Unidos Celebration, which is a large-scale event organized by top Latino organizations and promises a spectacular night of unity lead by Los Lobos and appearances by special guests. We hope you will gather along with us on this night to uplift the Latino community and ensure that Latino issues are showcased in this Convention.

Please be on the lookout on Latino Victory’s Facebook and Twitter posts, as we plan to update this events list as soon as we find the next amazing event. Also, if you are hosting an event, please send us the details and we will run it on our weekly social media updates.

¡Hasta pronto!

*Credit: Will Smith/DJ Jazzy Jeff

DNC Unplugged Latino Style Party-of-the-Year

Hosts: Al Día in Partnership with The Philadelphia History Museum

Why bother: Ticket proceeds will go to a great cause—the Al Día Foundation, which promotes advancements in journalism and multicultural communities. Also, open bar, unlimited food, and the opportunity to learn about Philadelphia’s riveting history.

Date: July 23, 2016

Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm

Location: Philadelphia History Museum  15 South 7th Street

Philadelphia, PA, 19106

*Information here.

DNC Hispanic Caucus  

Host: DNC

Why bother: This is a valuable opportunity to hear from the DNC Hispanic Caucus have a conversation about the issues Hispanics care about in this election.

Date: July 25, 2016

Time: 10:00am-12:00pm

Location: Philadelphia Convention Center

Hill Latino: Latino Leaders on Energy

Host: The Hill, The Latino Coalition and CHLI

Why bother: Environment and energy are two top Latino voter priority issues. Join The Hill Latino and The Latino Coalition for a conversation on how energy and environment issues will shape the Latino vote and the economy. Featured speakers include U.S. Rep. Henry Cuéllar (D-TX) and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.

Date: July 25, 2016

Time: 1:00pm-3:00pm

Location: The Hill’s Hub at City View

30 S. 17th Street

Philadelphia, PA

Latino Victory Project and The German Marshall Fund

Date: July 25, 2016

Time: 4:00pm-6:00pm

Why bother: Senator Chris Murphy will lead a conversation about top issues of transatlantic importance, and you can meet and mingle with the panelists and guests at a reception following the discussion. Also, we suspect an array of scrumptious Latino canapés will be served.

Location: 2035 Delancey Street

Philadelphia, PA

UnCONVENTIONal: The Evolving Electorate: How Technology Empowers Today’s Voters 

Hosts: Latino Victory Project, Google and Cornell Belcher

Why bother: You’ll get to hear from top Latino political and tech leaders in a panel, and then party with them and with other all-stars at the post-panel reception. The panel will highlight fresh battleground state polling on the the changing nature of the electorate and the technological tools that are enabling voters to make informed decisions in the 2016 election. Also, it’s one of Latino Victory’s sponsored events, we rock and it’s free.

Date: July 26, 2016

Time: 2:00pm-5:00pm

People Powered by Politics Policy Forum

Host: Voto Latino

Why bother: It’s a conversation sponsored by Voto Latino. We know they’ll have outstanding featured speakers headlining an engaging program.

Date: July 26, 2016

Time: 2:30pm-5:00pm

Location: University of the Arts Terra Hall

211 South Broad St.

Philadelphia, PA

Latinos Unidos Celebration

Hosts: Democratic National Committee, National Council of La Raza, Mexican-American League of Defense and Educational Fund, Latino Victory Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens, LCLAA, National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, CHCI, Hispanic Federation and others.

Why bother: Reception? Yes. Live music?  Celebrities? Yes.  You? Don’t be late.

Date: July 26, 2016

Time: 10:00pm-1:00am

Location: Philadelphia Marriott

1201 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA

Ticket Information: http://www.latinosunited.org

National Hispanic Leadership Agenda Latino Priorities

Host: National Hispanic Leadership Agenda

Why bother: This is a great opportunity to hear from the premier coalition of Latino organizations, NHLA, and learn more about how they are working to elevate and and advance Latino priorities.

Date: July 27, 2016

Time: 8:30am-10:30am

Location: The Raben Respite

1218 Arch St.

Philadelphia, PA

DNC Hispanic Caucus  

Host: DNC

Why bother: This is a valuable opportunity to hear from the DNC Hispanic Caucus have a conversation about the issues Hispanics care about in this election.

Date: July 27, 2016

Time: 10:00am-12:00pm

Location: Philadelphia Convention Center

Latino Victory Project Polling Data Release

Hosts: Latino Victory Project, The Hill and Latino Decisions

Why bother: Latino Victory is conducting a poll through Latino Decisions in 12 battleground states to determine how the campaign rhetoric is affecting Latino voter behavior. Our panel of pollsters and advocacy leaders will discuss the data in light of priority issues followed by a discussion on how these issues are being represented by the campaigns.

Date: July 27, 2015

Time: 2:00pm-3:00pm

Location: The Hill’s Hub at City View

30 S 17th St, 14th Floor

Philadelphia, PA

PODER PAC Reception: Honoring Latinas of the Clinton Campaign and Presenting Grace Ann Garcia Leadership Award

 Host: PODER PAC & Host Committee

Why bother: Eva Longoria Baston will headline this Latina powerhouse reception. This is also the first Grace Ann Garcia Leadership Award presentation and it will be awarded to another Latina all-star, Amanda Rentería, Hillary for America’s national political director. Special guests feature more Latina leaders including Rep. Linda Sánchez, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Rep. Grace Napolitano, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Rep. Norma Torres and Rep. Nydia Velazquez. Get your tickets before they’re sold out!

Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Time: 2:00pm

Location: 1200 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA

Ticket information: http://bit.ly/29EolEJ

The Democratic National Committee Heritage Festival 

Hosts: Democratic National Committee Heritage Council & The National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council

Why bother:  Festivals that celebrate ethnic diversity and promote unity and harmony are just what this nation needs right now. The festival features VIP speakers, world cuisine, music and dance performances as well as family-friendly games. Sign us up, por favor.

Date: July 27, 2016

Time: 3:00pm-6:00pm

Location: 1800 Block of East Passynuk Avenue

Philadelphia, PA

*Find more information here.

BRAVE by Voto Latino

Host: Voto Latino

Why bother: This is part of an inspiration campaign that empowers and uplifts the Latino community. The future belongs to the brave.

Date: July 27, 2016

Time: 9:00pm-11:00pm

Location: Theater of Living Arts

334 South Street

Philadelphia, PA