On Tuesday, April 17, the Latino community had a party celebrating “Latine Day at the Capitol,” an inspiring and well-attended event hosted by the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs(MCLA), to recognize our community’s contributions to the state of Minnesota and to “Embrace the Past, Celebrate the Present, and Dream up the Future!”
MCLA also commemorated its 45th anniversary of work, commitment, and legislative impact in the Latino community of Minnesota. Rosa Tock, Executive Director of MCLA in her opening speech highlighted the joint work of Latino organizations, especially during this legislative session, and mentioned that we are part of a social family, and when Minnesota Latinos make an effort, all Minnesota Latinos make an effort.
As an organization dedicated to the empowerment of communities through initiatives of social change and civic commitment, COPAL joined this important celebration in which different organizations also participated, including the Latino Economic Development Center, Comunidades Latinas Unidas al Servicio, Common Cause Minnesota, Education Law Advocacy Project, and elected legislators who support our community, including Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, and Representatives Alicia Kozlowski and Maria Isa Perez-Vega, who delighted the audience by singing acapella accompanied by a bongo, demonstrating the diversity and richness of our culture.
Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan were in attendance, and both expressed their support for the Latino community, recognizing the work and contributions that community members have brought to the state of Minnesota. Governor Tim Walz thanked Latinos for their participation, for their efforts to achieve substantial changes, for raising their voices, and for winning fights like the recent bill, Licenses for All.
During the ceremony, MCLA presented recognition awards for the significant contribution and career path of great leaders to the Latino community. COPAL received an award for being one of the organizations that has been building and empowering the community in an outstanding way, a recognition that makes them proud and encourages them to continue working for a more dignified Minnesota for all. Claudia Lainez, Coordinator of the Centro de Trabajadores Primero de Mayo, thanked MCLA for giving them this significant award, adding that it is an honor for the organization to be recognized for its work leading social impact initiatives to improve the quality of life of families in Minnesota.
In addition, the leaders of Latino LEAD, HACER and COPAL issued a call to action to the community. “We want to live better, in a safe place, where you can be recognized as a human being, and be respected, that is all we want,” was the call made in his speech by Francisco Segovia, Executive Director of COPAL. “We believe that recognizing the value of our culture, history and achievements is an essential part of our vision to build a more inclusive, equitable and bright future for all.”
The joint work of the various organizations, the participation of each member of the community, and the work for a common dream made on April 17, a great day of motivation, hope, and fight for that dignified future that we all deserve. “Honor the past, celebrate the present, and dream up the future” was this year’s motto. At the end of the day, the participants had the opportunity to visit the capitol and meet to present their political proposals to legislators, and topics of interest to continue working for a more inclusive and better future for all Latinos in Minnesota.