“The President’s Perspective”
By Alderman Ashanti Hamilton
Common Council President City of Milwaukee
Conventions have been on the minds of many Milwaukeeans since the Democratic National Convention selected our city as their host for 2020. While the DNC will be a fantastic opportunity for us next year, we have to look no further than this coming July to get excited about another nationally recognized convention with huge implications for Milwaukee. We are extremely proud to have been selected as the host for the League of United Latin American Citizens’ (LULAC) 2019 Convention, and I encourage residents to honor and celebrate the significance that this convention holds for Milwaukee.
LULAC is the oldest Latin American Civil Rights organization in the United States and has been an integral part of winning and maintaining rights for communities of color for the past 90 years. The Civil Rights movement brought forth many watershed moments where society shifted towards a more just treatment of Black Americans. Few know that one of the most notable Supreme Court decisions, Brown v. Board of Education, was preceded by LULAC’s 1947 Mendez v. Westminster, the first case to successfully challenge segregation in education. LULAC’s legal team won the lawsuit and put an end to 100 years of segregation in the Orange County, CA school district. This case was cited in the Brown decision and was instrumental in ushering in school integration across the United States.
This is just one example of how LULAC’s efforts have impacted the lives of Black and Brown communities for much of its history. When communities of color organize and come together and share in each other’s victories, we can accomplish collective goals we would otherwise independently struggle to achieve. In addition to laying the groundwork for Brown v. Board, LULAC won the right for Latin Americans to be represented equitably on juries in the Hernandez v. Texas decision by the Supreme Court.
They also were able to work with the Administration of Lyndon B. Johnson to transform their Little School of 400 program into the Project Head Start initiative that provides quality early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low income families nationwide. LULAC has consistently fought and won battles to improve the lives of Black and Brown people by organizing, unifying, and developing a strategy to address the systemic biases that impede access, progress and self-determination for people of color. It is in this spirit that individuals attending the LULAC convention in Milwaukee can mobilize to address our shared priorities.
Milwaukee is a majority-minority city, and that diversity can be our strength. However, we have not always had the unity necessary to effectively work toward our shared interests. In order for our respective community’s power to be regarded for the strength it truly possesses, we need to reaffirm our commitment to a Black and Brown Coalition across the City. This is an opportune moment to follow LULAC’s lead in building cross-cultural partnerships, such as the ones they share nationally with the Urban League and the NAACP.
By uniting communities of color, we can guide solutions to our common problems by building and strengthening local partnerships. This summer, as we unite in support of the LULAC convention, we should also seize the occasion to connect to build strategies that will improve conditions for our respective communities and the city of Milwaukee as a whole.
Dr. King once wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
LULAC has been a champion rooting out and fighting against injustice for the Latin American community for 90 years and in doing so contributed to greater opportunity for other communities. We must show strong support of LULAC by turning out in record numbers in July. Our coalition will be strengthened and our purpose affirmed by their presence, and Milwaukee will be a better city for it.
The 90th Annual LULAC National Convention and Exposition will be held in Milwaukee from July 9th-July 13th. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/convention19/