Latino Victory Foundation Celebrates First Birthday

"Tonight really wasn't about politics," said Henry R. Muñoz III. "It was about the politics of a nation who think that we don't exist, and that needs to change."

The Latino Victory Foundation, a non-partisan organization that advocates for issues impacting the Latino community, celebrated its first birthday Monday evening as it kicked off its inaugural “Latino Talks” event.

With a packed house at The Hamilton Live, several panelists took the stage to discuss some of the hurdles facing Latinos in the United States, as well as some civic solutions to these problems. Among the headliners were Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julián Castro, and actress/co-founder of the Latino Victory Fund, Eva Longoria — who, throughout the evening, emphasized the importance of, not only education within the Hispanic community in America, but parental engagement in the process as well.

“Education is the most important thing to economic mobility,” said Longoria.

“We have so many families where parents have not been to college, and so a lot of times they’re intimidated or they see school as the experts,” as Castro continued on the topic. “And they drop them off at school and let them get educated there, and we need to change that. The number one way we can do that is through parental engagement and giving folks the information they need to make decisions far enough in advance.”

The spirit of the evening was perhaps best captured by co-founder of the Latino Victory Foundation, Henry R. Muñoz III, who stressed the significance of having the American political system hear the voice of the Latino community — regardless of party politics.

“Tonight really wasn’t about politics,” said Muñoz. “It was about the politics of a nation who think that we don’t exist, and that needs to change.”

Toward the end of the panel discussion, things got a little less serious, as the evening’s moderator and on-air host of NBC UNIVERSO, Yarel Ramos, posed the timeless but necessary question to Castro and Longoria: “tequila or whiskey?”

“Wine!” Longoria quickly answered.

While Castro surprised a few audience members with, “Ice tea. I don’t drink..”

The evening ended with Longoria reasserting how crucial the work of the foundation is, and why having Latinos in public office is so essential to our democracy.

“With Latino Victory, a lot of people always ask us: ‘who cares if there are Latinos in public office?” said Longoria. “Diversity, diversity, diversity… That’s like the new popular word, right? But the definition of diversity is recognizing and celebrating the differences in people. And when a large organization like government diversifies and reflects its population, what you do is you’re including the widest possible ranges of experiences and the diversifying of those experiences create innovative ideas, and innovative ideas then lead to unified action, which is what our country needs.”