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Demfest and that Latino community

Earlier this year, I participated in Demfest in Austin, Texas. Over 1,000 progressives came together from across Texas and around the nation to participate in this event for the grassroots.
Through educational workshops, motivational speakers, political satirists, and performances from regional musicians, we were inspired, informed and entertained and we were given the tools necessary to empower our political success. We came together as a community and were called by our peers and our leaders into action- to take ownership for the political process and for our political views.
The ballots are now in and counted and the decision is official. Next year's Demfest will be in San Diego, CA.
We, at Latinos for America, believe that this choice presents the progressive community with a tremendous opportunity on several levels, but today we will be blogging about the historic opportunity that this represents for progressives in the outreach to and involvement of the Hispanic/Latino community.
According to the census, 34% of the population in California is Hispanic/Latino.  With the most Latino elected officials of any state, California is also the state with the greatest political representation of the Latino community.
Last year, the Demfest organizers did a fabulous job partnering with Latinos for Texas and reaching out to the Latino community and facilitating a conversation about the political involvement and engagement of Latinos. I would like to propose that this year's Demfest build on the success of last year's and that in its third year of existence there be an eye on ensuring that the conference reflect the 34% of the CA population which is Latino.
I think that Demfest could help to lead the rest of the Progressive movement if it chooses to through outreach to prospective participants, those that facilitate the educational workshops, the motivational speakers, political satirists, and even the regional musicians. Seeing that kind of engagement of the Latino community would truly be inspirational and a testament to the progressive community's commitment to engaging the growing Hispanic/Latino voice.

Posted by Kety Esquivel on October 3, 2005 at 08:01 PM | Permalink

Comments

Latinos For America has done such a fantastic job with the trainings at the last 2 annual DemocracyFests. We definately look forward to the LFA trainings being a part of DemocracyFest this year.

In addition, it will be wonderful to have LFA's advise on the best ways to reach out to the Latino community to not only include them in DemocracyFest, but find new ways that we can all join with them to work towards the goals of progressive Latinos in the future.

Posted by: Jessica | Oct 3, 2005 8:09:20 PM

The 2000 Census lists "750,965 Hispanic or Latino" in San Diego County.

Advertising for DF '05 was run in the Latino media in Austin (in Spanish). I think that is something that should be done again in San Diego.

Kety, I know LFA has done trainings in Spanish before. Do you think that is something that should be offered at DF '06?

Posted by: Jessica | Oct 3, 2005 8:16:40 PM

I couldn't agree more, Kety; this is exactly what we should be aiming for, but I'd be happy if we reached a 15% Latino/Hispanic participation at DemFest next year, even with it being held in San Diego, unless a lot of the local activists start working with the SD hispanic community now.

Posted by: Ralph Miller | Oct 3, 2005 8:18:26 PM

Jessica, you can count on us to provide another training in 2006! Thanks for asking. & I think it would be a fabulous addition to be able to hold one in Spanish.

Tapping into the Spanish media is another great idea- print, radio and if possible TV would be great.

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:23:31 PM

Training, in Spanish? You've come to the right place!!

Posted by: Ralph Miller | Oct 3, 2005 8:25:25 PM

Ralph, Excellent point. I think that the best way to engage the SD Hispanic community is for local activists to start working with the SD Hispanic community today and bring them onboard right away, ideally as a part of the planning team.

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:26:03 PM

I think there is a geniune wish on the part of the DFA community to reach out to Latinos. Unfortunately, it has had some drawbacks. To be successful, I think it's crucial that as part of the outreach plan, Demfest organizers in San Diego not only partner with LFA and other new progressive groups, but also labor groups and the offices of progressive latino elected officials, who often enjoy heavy latino grassroots support.

Posted by: Nathan Gonzalez | Oct 3, 2005 8:26:35 PM

Ralph, I would also be happy with 15%. Mostly because it pretty acuratly reflects the national percentage of Latinos in the US, and this is a national convention.

Posted by: Jessica | Oct 3, 2005 8:27:52 PM

Another thing that I would love to see is for the organizers to reach out to all of the progressive Hispanic elected officials throughout the state. We would be happy to work with the planning committee to draft a letter on behalf of Demfest and LFA.

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:28:31 PM

ideally as a part of the planning team.

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:26:03 PM

At least one person on the 10 person planning committee is Latino. 4 are White. I actually have no idear what race the other 5 from CA are. It wasn't a question we asked.

Posted by: Jessica | Oct 3, 2005 8:31:53 PM

That's a good point Jessica. Demfest is a national convention. So, ideally all of these efforts should be national. That being said, however, my experience this year was that the greatest percentage of participants were from Texas- which makes sense. The wonderful opportunity of having Demfest convened in SD, consequently, is that it will be easier to work with local Hispanic groups and groups proximate to SD and engage them from the onset.

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:33:00 PM

Also, because of SD's geography, southern Arizona is very close by, which is heavily latino. Hispanic leaders like Rep. Raul Grijalva should definitely be brought on board.

Posted by: Nathan Gonzalez | Oct 3, 2005 8:34:54 PM

Sorry I'm late.

I'd love to see a 15% Latino participation at DemFest. Offering some trainings in spanish may be just the additional draw we need.

Additional outreach is never a bad idea, Nathan.

Posted by: Charlene | Oct 3, 2005 8:35:04 PM

Good point, Nathan. Jessica, do you know if the planning team is reaching out to labor groups?

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:35:30 PM

Jessica, do you know if the planning team is reaching out to labor groups?

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:35:30 PM

Not yet. We are in the very early stages of planning still, but that will definately go on the list. I also liked the idea of sending a letter to elected Latinos.

Posted by: Jessica | Oct 3, 2005 8:38:42 PM

Nathan, don't we have some good Latino progressive electeds down these? It would be great to get one of them onto the DemFest steering committee, someone like Loretta Sanchez, for example, or someone from her staff. Also be good to have Paloma join the group, even though I think she left Univision.

Posted by: Ralph Miller | Oct 3, 2005 8:38:51 PM

Being California the state with the greatest political representation of the latino community I must say it is wounderful that next year's Denfest will take place in San Diego Cal.

Training in Spanish sounds great.


Posted by: blanca | Oct 3, 2005 8:39:17 PM

It sounds like there's agreement on trying to reach 15% Latino participation at Demfest this year. Do we know how that compares to this year?

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:39:27 PM

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:33:00 PM

There was a heavy TX emphasis on last year's event. A local emphasis is good because it draws more local people, but it can also discourage people from across the country from attending. One of our goals this year is to find the right balance between local and national, so we get a good balance of people.

Posted by: Jessica | Oct 3, 2005 8:42:25 PM

Hola, Blanca, Thanks for joining us for our blog in English today. We'll be back to Spanish next month. Thought we'd mix it up a little.

Posted by: Kety Esquivel | Oct 3, 2005 8:44:15 PM

Ralph, I thought that the CA members of the steering committee was already selected. However, that doesn't mean that others can't provide assistance and work on subcommittees.

Posted by: Charlene | Oct 3, 2005 8:45:40 PM

Not to get too picky about numbers, if out of 1000 participants, only 150 are "Hispanic," it could hardly be called a diverse group. Being that the past two speakers of the California assembly have been Latino; that California gave birth of the Cesar Chavez movement and that the largest city (or second largest) in the country, which is in California, has a Latino mayor, we should really aim higher.

It's like having the conference in South Carolina and only shooting for 15% African American turnout. If it weren't for Hispanics, California might be Republican today. Just saying.

Posted by: Nathan Gonzalez | Oct 3, 2005 8:47:14 PM

We only had about a 3.5% to 5% Latino participation in Austin if I remember correctly. Kety and the Latinos for Texas group did garner a very well attended lunch on the last day, so I'd say the interest is high. Perhaps as part of the panel we can get some leading Hispanics to sit on the panell. I'd start by inviting Paul Rivera.

Posted by: Ralph Miller | Oct 3, 2005 8:47:20 PM

Oh, Nathan, you are SO practical, you New Yorker, you!

Posted by: Ralph Miller | Oct 3, 2005 8:48:38 PM

We can call it an Advisory Committee.

Posted by: Charlene | Oct 3, 2005 8:45:40 PM: Ralph, I thought that the CA members of the steering committee was already selected. However, that doesn't mean that others can't provide assistance and work on subcommittees.

Posted by: Ralph Miller | Oct 3, 2005 8:50:11 PM

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