Leaders and politicians discuss civic engagement at Voto Latino’s Power Summit 2019

Saachi Subramaniam

Young Latinx voters and allies gathered at Voto Latino’s Power Summit 2019 to learn how to register, organize and mobilize civic engagement in their communities as the 2020 election approaches.

The two-day summit held in the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center this weekend brought several speakers to address issues within the Latinx voting community, such as voter turnout, civic engagement and disenfranchisement in the current political climate. Attendees at the power summit represented the Texas Latinx community and organizations from across the U.S.

Voto Latino, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, organized the summit to rally those that are looking to get more involved in politics and the wave of American and Latinx voters, according to their official website. María Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of the organization, said the nonprofit came to Austin because Texas has political power in the upcoming election. 

“We came to Austin because we saw the writing on the wall,” Kumar said. “There are roughly 500 folks here from around the country, so why Texas? Texas is the way to the White House, it is the forefront of a wave of Latino leadership, and you people are the pioneers. This is the time to invest in yourself and this city.”

On Saturday, Kumar introduced 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro to the stage. Castro said people needed to register to vote and get their community rallied for the 2020 election. 

“You young people are here for a reason,” Castro said. “You are the future and the present. You have been active on your college campus, you are empowered to make a difference, and you are going to drive whatever happens in what I see for this country’s future.”

Students from states such as California and Oklahoma interacted with UT students during a networking session, where Voto Latino set up tabling and organizations curated to help young voters get civically engaged.

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a voice, but summits like this help students like me actually get inspired and not hopeless about my future,” government sophomore Mariana Giraldo said. “I think when we see politicians who actually represent us as people, whether that be Latinx or POC, it shows us that we can also do what their doing and more. I want to be great, just like them.”