THE NUESTRA VOZ CONFERENCE
The Latina Circle launched Amplify Latinx at the inaugural Nuestra Voz Conference on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Together with our co-host at the Center for Woman in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston, Amplify Latinx hosted action-oriented training sessions around political leadership, advocacy and positioning oneself for government boards and commissions. We welcomed over 250 Latino leaders more than 70 community partners committed to the mission of truly amplifying the voice of the Latino community on every level. Our sponsors and partners understand that by coming together to help develop more Latino leaders, every community is strengthened and our economic conditions are improved in direct and tangible ways. Morning speakers included local Latino elected officials who served as ‘Firestarters’ with their inspirational stories; and a keynote address by Maria Hinojosa, host and executive producer of NPR’s Latino USA. Afternoon events at UMass Boston included leadership workshops and a fireside chat moderated by MA Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz with former U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. The Nuestra Voz Conference is the first in a series of collaborative convenings that will include four summer workshops and a Fall Summit aimed at empowering our community leaders and building sustainable partner coalitions.
Almost 57 million strong, Latinos in the US represent over 17% of the population and have more than $1.5 trillion in buying power. in Massachusetts, Latinos comprise 12.4% of the state’s population and in Boston 20% of the population is Latino. The Latino population is also growing rapidly representing over 90% of Boston’s growth in since 1980.
Yet Latinos are grossly under-represented in civic leadership roles of impact. Only 5 percent of US congressional seats and 4 percent of state legislature seats are held by Latinos. These disparities are most glaring on the local level, where Latino representation is lacking in elected leadership and in government appointed positions. In addition to being under-represented in elected and appointed leadership positions, Latinos also exhibit low participation in the civic process. In Massachusetts, for example, only 42% of Latino voters eligible to vote are registered. Increasing Latino political participation rates today will have deep impact for the future generation, and for this reason intentional interventions are necessary.
Given the gross under-representation of Latinos in civic leadership roles of impact, a more holistic approach, beyond just voter engagement is needed. Civic education, organizing, and advocacy, for example, can give Latinos meaningful participation that may lead them to vote, pursue electoral politics, seek appointment to City and State Boards or Commissions or seek other leadership opportunities within their communities, states or even at a national level.
Amplify Latinx is a vehicle to accelerate power building, civic engagement, and socially impactful leadership within the MA Latino community.