Letter to the editor from Eliseo Flores of Des Moines, a recent graduate from Grandview University and summer intern for Julián Castro. Photo of Flores and his grandmother.
“There is no substitute for hard work.”
I remember these words ringing in my head throughout my childhood. As I grew up seeing these words in action, I was spurred to become the activist and leader I am today.
My grandmother, a Chicana activist who would later become a farmer’s rights lawyer, lived by these words her entire life. I vividly remember asking my grandmother why she decided to become a lawyer, in which she responded with a story:
“When I went to school there were many barriers that my siblings and I had to overcome. In elementary school, I can remember being hit by my teachers for speaking Spanish, and told that if I didn’t speak English that I would be hit again. This was an extremely painful experience for my brother who didn’t speak any English. He actually stopped going to school because he was tired of being hit by his teachers.”
“Seeing this at such a young age, and not being able to do anything about it really frustrated me. So, as I grew older and attended college, I did whatever I could to help my people who didn’t have a voice. I marched with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerto during the Delano Grape Boycott. I can remember boycotting grapes for the longest time. I still don’t like seeing grapes in my house to this day!”
After I heard this story, one of my biggest goals in life became trying to affect change for my people, and to do whatever I could in order to gain representation for people of color, especially Latinx.
Growing up as a young Latino in Iowa, I’ve seen little to no representation for the Latinx community in politics whatsoever. For me, this was extremely disheartening because I know how important it is for people of color, especially young people of color, to see someone who looks like, talks like, and acts like them in a position of power.
As this year’s presidential cycle drew near, I thought it would be a great chance for me to follow through on my goal and affect change.
When I began looking into candidates, I made sure to take into consideration two distinct criteria. First, I decided that I want to support a candidate that I think is the most qualified to become the President of the United States of America. Second, I made sure to look for a candidate that would represent the Latinx community in the most effective and authentic way possible.
When I finally found that Secretary Julián Castro was throwing his hat into the ring, my decision became so much easier. Taking from everything I learned from my grandmother, I found that Secretary Castro is an ideal candidate. I believe he is someone who will govern with a People First mindset and make sure to represent the United States in an intelligent and honest way. All of his well-rounded policies including immigration, education, housing and many more speak to the magnitude of the effort he’s put into understanding the American people.
For this, I applaud him and continue to share my support for his campaign.
by Eliseo Flores