News Release

Vice President Kamala Harris Delivers Special Remarks at UnidosUS 2021 Capital Awards

Cindy McCain, Sen. Robert Menendez, and Living United for Change in Arizona among this year’s honorees

March 23, 2021

WASHINGTON – Vice President Kamala Harris tonight delivered special remarks to the hundreds of attendees of the UnidosUS 2021 Capital Awards. The annual Capital Awards, hosted by the organization formerly known as the National Council of La Raza and held via online streaming this year, honors public figures, politicians, and organizations who have championed policies and causes empowering the Latino community. This year’s virtual ceremony recognized philanthropist and humanitarian Cindy McCain and Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey. The Capital Award for Public Service honoree was Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA).

“We were honored to welcome back the Vice President—a former recipient of our public service award—to our event in her new and history-making role as the first woman of color and daughter of immigrants to serve in the office. She and President Biden are doing life-saving work through the American Rescue Plan, the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines, and the efforts to cut child poverty. They understand the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the Latino community, and they have moved to address those inequities,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía.

Turning to the evening’s honorees, Murguía said: “Fighting for a cause greater than ourselves is a belief that guides the McCain family. At considerable personal cost, Cindy McCain stood up for the values that she and her late husband, Senator John McCain, have fought for and lived by throughout their lives: family, faith, decency, honesty, and love of country. During an election sadly filled with misinformation and falsehoods, Cindy’s brave actions were a reminder that truth and integrity do, and should still, matter. It was a courageous and inspiring message to the voters of Arizona and to all Americans on both sides of the political aisle. For her leadership and defense of our democracy at a time when it was shaken to its core, we honor Cindy McCain.”

“Many go into public service, but few devote their lives to it,” Murguía said. “For more than 30 years, Senator Bob Menendez has been a tireless and fierce advocate for working families, Latino and immigrant communities. A steadfast ally and leader on immigration reform, he most recently worked with the Biden administration to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people. His firm belief in increasing diversity and inclusion in government and across all institutions fueled his drive to recognize and honor our community’s contributions to this nation, culminating in the historic passage of legislation last December authorizing the Museum of the American Latino,” Murguía said. “For his tireless work on behalf of Latinos and the many other constituencies he has championed, we honor him tonight.”

This year’s Public Service Award was presented to Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA). The grassroots organization has played a significant role in addressing the issues facing Arizonans, whether advocating for workers’ rights, mobilizing and registering eligible voters, or providing direct immigration services. Since its founding, LUCHA has helped empower Arizona’s working families to act on the social and economic justice issues that matter most to them.

“That LUCHA’s logo is a luchador mask is no accident. Following passage of the anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant SB 1070—a group of young people decided to channel their anger into change. LUCHA emerged to help create not just a moment for change but a whole movement. Their tireless efforts to fight for our community’s vote and voice and make Latinos a political force to be reckoned with yielded historic results in the 2020 elections and fundamentally transformed Arizona politics. For organizing and energizing a community of luchadores, we honor LUCHA with the 2021 UnidosUS Capital Award for Public Service,” Murguía concluded.

The exciting award show included performances by comedian, writer, actor, and producer Al Madrigal; poet, performer, and activist Sonia Guiñansaca; and a musical performance by Las Cafeteras of East Los Angeles. Television reporter Erika Gonzalez of NBC4 Washington served as host of the event.

The virtual award show rounded off the 2021 UnidosUS Changemakers Summit, a two-day advocacy training geared towards aspiring advocates and community leaders committed to driving policy change on Latinos’ behalf. The virtual Summit featured remarks from Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Murguía, and UnidosUS policy experts who discussed the latest, most pressing issues facing the Latino community.

Wells Fargo and Nationwide served as co-chairs of the 2021 UnidosUS Capital Awards. Google served as the presenting sponsor of the 2021 UnidosUS Changemakers Summit.

If you missed it, you can watch the full program here: capitalawards21.com 

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit www.unidosus.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact:
Gabriela Gomez
news@unidosus.org