LULAC Virtual Summit 2020: Tapping Technology to Overcome COVID-19

Posted on 08/21/2020 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: LULAC Virtual Summit

The LULAC Virtual Summit last week successfully connected members and allies of the nation’s largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization via the internet. It was a three-day state-of-the-art event that brought together thousands of participants for what may well be a preview of the future in LULAC’s advocacy.

More than 80 expert speakers filled 30-plus hours of presentations, panel discussions and training workshops. One of the summit highlights was the compelling conversation with Dr. Jill Biden, the country’s former Second Lady and wife of Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden. She was on a panel with two Latino congressional leaders and a labor advocate for nurses examining the impact COVID-19 is having on Latinos. 

“There is power in kindness and this helps to build the bonds of communities during our difficult times,” said Dr. Biden. Then, she outlined how her husband, if elected, will activate what she called his Plan for Recovery which would create millions of jobs and help essential workers in all frontline sectors with free testing and more assistance. The panel agreed it will take all Americans coming together to rebuild the nation’s economic, education and health systems which have been strained beyond their limits during the pandemic. Dr. Biden concluded by saying that how America recovers from COVID-19 will be a reflection of the nation’s vision, character and stamina.

Julian Castro, former presidential candidate and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development addressed the summit in a separate conversation focusing on Democracy in action. “Our Latino community is in a state of emergency,” he said. “If we want people, young and old to get excited and get out to vote, then elected officials must deliver results,” he added. Secretary Castro also spoke of four million Latinos who benefitted from the Affordable Care Act under President Barack Obama. He added this is in sharp contrast to President Trump who is targeting Latinos, especially immigrants. “The bright spot though,” said Castro, “is that this awoke young people because of how divisive our country has become. Our job now is voter registration and getting people to the polls.”

Another important conversation highlighted the state of the civil rights struggle in the United States and included leaders of LULAC, NAACP, National Urban League and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “You are the people who can make change happen,” Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President told the audience. “We can close the baby jails that are still open in 2020,” he added. Garcia recalled the day he stood in front of an ICE bus in McAllen, Texas and saw children five and six years old being transported to a detention center, their little hands on steel bars. “Tu voto cuenta,” said Garcia. His words were echoed by the other panelists who called Black Lives Matter, the civil rights movement of the 21st century and accused the Trump Administration of having breached the contract of the Constitution.

Equally significant was the timely examination of the United States military and veterans affairs. A panel of retired female officers said that trust in the branches of the military has been lost over the death of Ft. Hood Army Private Vanessa Guillen. Latinos see service in the military as a source of pride and those with whom their sons or daughters are serving become their second family. They called for several steps to be taken if the military hopes to regain public trust. These include increasing training for both men and women to prevent military sexual harassment (MST). Also, change must begin at the highest ranks so that other soldiers will take reforms seriously. Another action the panel recommended is that reporting of sexual misconduct must be to an entity outside of the military. A major conclusion the panel reached was that even with these reforms, it will take time for Latino families to again trust the military enough to be willing to support their children’s desire to join the service.

To see the panels or the entire summit, go to our playlist of live-streamed videos available on demand at our Facebook page.

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