When Junot Diaz accepted his Literature Award at the 29th Hispanic Heritage Awards in September, he dedicated the honor to Latinos, some of “the greatest heroes our world has known.”
His ode to the Latino community’s struggle and perseverance was widely circulated at the time, and it caught the eye of civic engagement organization, Voto Latino, and its President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar.
And with permission from Diaz, Voto Latino took an excerpt of the powerfully moving words the Pulitzer Prize-winning author wrote for his acceptance speech and turned it into a video urging Latinos to cast their vote on Nov. 8.
The video shows iconic images of Latinos, like Cesar Chavez and Selena Quintanilla, and visuals that illustrate Diaz’s words. Kumar explained to The Huffington Post, via e-mail, how the collaboration came about and why Voto Latino felt particularly moved by the Dominican-American author’s words.
His speech was powerful because he incapsulated our community’s diverse American experience in a few stanzas,” Kumar told The Huffington Post. “He spoke to our truths, those of our parents and grandparents. He spoke out loud of a country that we deeply care about, contribute to, and sacrifice for but that at times “others” us. He spoke to our oral story that has yet been penned. We are American in a country whose future is dependent on our community’s success but doesn’t know it yet. As Junot said - we are its ‘Super Power.’ In an election year - where a candidate has campaigned by defining who is or isn’t American - Junot spoke to our struggle navigating this terrain while being prideful of our American-Latino heritage.
The vide was created by Voto Latino as part of their Brave challenge, which urges Latinos to flex their electoral muscle on Nov. 8.
“It’s an act of defiance in the face of adversity,” Kumar explained. “It’s standing up for ourselves, our families, and our communities, just as Junot’s speech illustrates. There are folks who say they want to sit it out - and to those I say, the only way to shape policy, defy national perception of who is ‘American,’ to check politicians who ‘other’ us for lazy political expediency, is a wave of Latinos and allies to participate at the polls.”
Watch Voto Latino’s video above and Junot Diaz’s full speech below.