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Mayor Castro, 1st Latino To Give DNC Keynote Speech

Filed by KOSU News in Politics.
September 4, 2012

At the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, Julian Castro will deliver the keynote speech. The 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, Texas, is what many call the new face of the Democratic Party

The weekend before the start of the Democratic National Convention, the parishioners at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in San Antonio were sending off one of their own with a breakfast taco rally.

“It’s a great step when you look at the progressions that happened with the parities that have gone from not recognizing the Hispanic community to having somebody in the very front, you know, being the keynote speaker,” says parishioner Larry Ybaraa. “That’s like a thousand percent improvement over the last several years.”

This is the neighborhood where Julian Castro and his twin brother Joaquin grew up – going to Jefferson High School just down the street. Before becoming mayor, Castro first represented this working class Mexican-American neighborhood on the city council. Joaquin is a state representative in Austin and a Democratic nominee for Congress.

But if you want to know the brothers, you need to start with their mother Rosie. As a single mom, she raised the two boys and pushed them to stay out of trouble and excel in school.

Julian Castro’s story of success is similar to President Barack Obama’s and local Tea Party activists say there’s another comparison between the two.

Activist George Rodriguez, “I see a very clear similarity between the upbringing that Mr. Obama had in a nontraditional home and being mentored by radicals and the same thing with the Castros being brought up in a nontraditional home by their mother, who herself was a member of the Raza Unida Party, which was very, very radical.”

In the 70′s Raza Unida was a civil rights organization that campaigned for better working, housing and education opportunities for Mexican Americans. Castro’s mother was one of its leaders in South Texas. She broke barriers by organizing voter registration, getting out the vote and putting new Mexican-American candidates on the ballot.

Mayor Castro shrugs off any suggestion that Raza Unida was a radical cell.

“If somebody calls trying to get people to vote radical, then that’s quite a difference from the United States because the democratic process is about the biggest blessing we have in this country.”

When the twin brothers arrive at the church hall, the crowd goes wild — slapping their backs and snapping smartphone photos.

Castro tells the crowd that when he speaks at the convention, “I won’t be talking to any empty chairs up there.”

Castro said he did watch parts of last week’s GOP convention and he expects a more positive tone at the DNC.

He’s been practicing using a teleprompter and tweaking the speech that he says will tell his version of the American Dream and explain why he supports Obama’s re-election.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous – it’s something new,” Castro says. “But by the time I get up there on Tuesday night, I’ll be ready.”

The feeling around the neighborhood is that history is taking place -– that a local boy is heading for Charlotte and coming back a national political figure, who one day might be running for the White House himself. [Copyright 2012 Texas Public Radio]

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