As we prepare for the Massachusetts Primary Elections on September 4th, we reflect on what inspired us to launch Amplify Latinx a non-partisan, collaborative movement that’s building Latinx economic and political power. Amplify Latinx was born from a forum hosted by the Latina Circle and Latino Victory Project in November 2016 on the “State of Latino Political Power.” This forum with Texas State Representative César J. Blanco, MA Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Chelsea City Councilor Judith García and Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO of IBA and co-founder of Greater Boston Latino Network (GBLN), began a conversation about how Latinos can become a powerful voice in the electoral process and what the barriers areto getting our communities engaged civically.
As a result, last year we hosted the first ever Nuestra Voz Conference at the Edward Kennedy Institute for the US Senate where over 250 Latinx leaders and 75+ Latinx-led and Latinx serving organizations, social justice and power building groups came together collaboratively to begin building a Latinx Power Coalition in Massachusetts. Latinos attending the conference made us believe that they are no longer the “sleeping giant” or an “invisible minority,” but rather, a force that is building momentum and can no longer be ignored.
This is the juncture where we unify and convene our Latinx leaders and organizations around a common goal of amplifying our voice and political muscle. The equation is simple. At 57.4 million strong, Latinos are 17.8% of the U.S. population, meaning nearly one in five Americans are Latino. Latinos comprise 11% of Massachusetts’ and 20% of Boston’s population, with Lawrence (77%), Chelsea (66%), Holyoke (50%), Springfield (42%), and Lynn (36%) having the highest concentrations of Latinos. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2040, Latinos will constitute almost a quarter of the total U.S. population.
Despite their growth, Latinos are grossly underrepresented in political and civic leadership roles of impact. For example, in Massachusetts Latinos represent less than 1% of our legislative body on Beacon Hill, leaving a substantial leadership and opportunity gap for Latinos in the Commonwealth.
Although the Latinx community voted in record numbers in 2016, they are still underrepresented in the political process. The Latino vote will continue playing an important role in U.S. elections, which includes the shaping of Massachusetts’ political landscape in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. Latinx leaders are running for office in record numbers across the country. In Massachusetts we are seeing the leaders of the next generation who are vying to represent the under-represented.
Voting is the most fundamental right an individual has in a democracy. Our suffragettes and civil rights leaders fought and some died so that we could have the right to vote. The best way to honor them is to exercise your right. In 2016, 83.1% of Latinos registered to vote turned out at the polls. We can do this again! Every one of you can make a difference today by voting in the primary election. You can show that Massachusetts Latinx do have a voice and they want to be heard. No matter who you are, your vote today helps to create diversity in our electorate. More importantly, you can make a difference in electing leaders who will fight for more equitable policies for underrepresented communities.
Here is what you can do today.
Take a moment for learn your polling location and the candidates running in your district. Make time to vote on September 4th and help your neighbor or family member get to the polls. Give a friend a ride, cover for your co-worker or let your employees out a little earlier so they can vote. Together, we can make a difference in this election. Amplify Your Voice!