For the past 11 years different organizations within the Latino community have hosted Latino/a Advocacy Day (LAD) as a way to bolster action and activism. This year the Colorado Organization of Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) hosted the two-day event which focused on advocacy trainings and briefings on policy issues that most impact Latinos in Colorado. The events started March 19 at North High School and concluded March 20 starting at Central Presbyterian Church and ending with a rally on Capitol Hill.

Latino Advocacy Day 2016, photo by Coreen Zuniga

“[LAD came from] the need from our community to be more informed by what the political process is like and for people to have a voice and to use it,” COLOR Communications and Development Director, Victoria Gómez Betancourt, said.

The first day focused on outlining immigrant, reproductive, environmental and economic issues, how to understand the lobbying process, understanding legislation and civic engagement. The keynote speaker this year for day one was Representative Joe Salazar, who is known for his work with the Latino community. Day two focused on putting activism into action. Every year the event hosts a rally on the State Capitol to illustrate that the power of a collective voice can translate into action.

“This is our community’s opportunity to be in the Capitol, which is their house. We want to ensure our communities are clear that legislators work for and are accountable to them, now more than ever. With so much at stake for the Latinx community and our families, we must take every opportunity to show up, speak up and be heard about the issues that impact our very livelihood and safety,”  – Executive Director of COLOR, Cristina Aguilar, said.

Latino Advocacy Day 2016, photo by Coreen Zuniga

LAD attracts numerous Latinos and allies from across the state and pulls from the younger population of community members. The issues they discuss come from an intersectional background. This means that the issues discussed and worked on are looked at through the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group. Different intersectionalities are regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

“Our most vulnerable community that is under attack right now is the immigrant community,” Betancourt said. “[The rally] is to give our participants a boost. It’s a very energetic moment and so to have people re-energized and excited to be at the state capital being ready to go and meet with legislators, and share their views on whatever policies they want talked about. So it’s a way for us to rally our truths.”

The bulk of people that come to LAD have been coming and participating since its inception. Statewide there has been participation from people coming from Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Longmont, Grand Junction and the Denver areas.

“We’re heartened that we have record numbers of registrants from across the state and we look forward to the short and long term impact of their advocacy Sunday, Monday and in the coming year,” Aguilar said.

In conjunction with the events, childcare, interpreters and food were provided so that people needing these services could participate regardless of any special accomodations that may have been an issue.

Photo courtesy of COLOR.