On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, with its partners CASA de Maryland, the AFL-CIO, SEIU and many others, will present Camino Americano: Concert and March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Los Tigres del Norte will headline the free Concert and will be joined by guest artists Lila Downs and Little Joe (Hernandez). Los Tigres have been at the forefront of the immigration debate from almost the very beginning. The outdoor, two-hour concert will begin at 12:30 p.m. at 10th Street and the National Mall. While many of you may not be able to join us in person, we hope that the Concert and March will resonate in your hearts and minds.
Latinos have united and shown their cumulative strength convincingly at the ballot box, most notably during the November 2012 presidential election. Our unity is largely due to the vitriolic messaging from the conservative right; but negativity should not be the basis of what unites us. The cultural messages of the songs of Los Tigres and so many other artists can also provide us with a stronger, more compassionate and aspirational way to forge ahead in this country.
Listen to the songs of Los Tigres, like "Mis Dos Patrias," which tells a story of a father in conflict over his identity and that of his American raised children, and leads to the harmonized message that two countries can fit in one heart. Or to "Mi Soldado," another Los Tigres song about a family saying goodbye to their son who has joined the U.S. military, not knowing whether they will see him again and simultaneously proud of his service and pained by his commitment. Or "America," a song about the unity among all Americans and the Americas that reminds us that we are all Americans, regardless of what part of America we come from. These cultural messages unite us through the inspirational images they present.
The lyrics of American folk songs sung by African Americans 50 years ago during the March on Washington invigorated and reinforced that community's resolve to stand strong until civil rights legislation was passed and enacted into law. Such memorable songs as "We Shall Overcome" and "Amazing Grace" continue to evoke not only a time past, but a time present and a time future.
The Camino Americano Concert will draw on the power of song, the embrace of culture, and a further definition of who Latinos are today ― our historical presence in this country and our own civil rights struggles that ran parallel with the African American experience and the future promise of a people and a nation.
The Concert will focus not only on the need for immigration reform but also on halting the deportation of immigrants for noncriminal reasons, especially those that result in the separation of families. Lila Downs and Los Tigres will perform "La Jaula de Oro," the Golden Cage, about the personal price of living in the land of opportunity, which is the fear of deportation. It also means that as your children grow, they lose their cultural identity and language, and although you have given them the best life possible, you are left isolated and marginalized in a golden cage.
The Concert will add more images and spoken words from individuals directly impacted by both the need for immigration reform and the need to end of noncriminal deportations. It's a historic moment in our history, as we take charge of how we unify and express our needs as a community, and introduce the nation to the next generation of American folk songs.
As another Tigres' song recounts: "Somos Mas Americanos," a reminder that the majority of us were born here and are more American than most. We need your help to amplify our voice. Together we will change the Congress and the White House's tune on our issues.