Honoring Advocates: A Recap of the UnidosUS 2024 Capital Awards

This year, we recognized Representative Nanette Barragán, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and Congressman Joaquin Castro at #CapAwards24.

On the evening of March 5, 2024, at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, UnidosUS hosted the 2024 Capital Awards ceremony. This annual event serves as a platform to honor advocates, public figures and elected leaders who tirelessly champion the cause of the Latino community. The Capital Awards were not just an evening of celebration – they were a reaffirmation of our collective commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable society for all.  

Keynote Remarks by Maryland Governor Wes Moore

Maryland Governor Wes Moore speaking at Capital Awards 2024

Governor Wes Moore of Maryland delivered stirring keynote remarks at the Capital Awards. As the 63rd Governor of the state, Moore holds the distinction of being Maryland’s first Black Governor in its 246-year history. He reflected:

“Before I ran for office, I ran a CBO (community-based organization), and the reason why I mention that is because when I get a chance to look up here and I see people who are leading community organizations and business leaders, and political leaders and advocates and elected officials, this is what change looks like.”

You can catch the rest of Wes Moore’s remarks here.

Representative Barragán receives Capital Award

Representative Barragán speaking at Capital Awards 2024

Representative Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Chair of the Hispanic Caucus, was honored with the 37th Annual UnidosUS Capital Award. Her unwavering support for vital issues such as Medicaid protection, Latino homeownership, wage equality, and immigrant rights deeply resonates with our mission. Her work is a testament to her dedication to advancing our priorities on Capitol Hill. In her moving acceptance speech, Representative Barragán shared her personal journey and emphasized the importance of hard work and determination:

“[My parents] were so proud to be in America and always pointed to the American Dream as something that we should aspire to. And that journey was not easy for me; it took a lot of hard work and many people along the way who said ‘you can’t because.’ But I listened to my parents, worked hard, and made sure that we can show people that if you work hard in this country and if you study and listen to your parents, you too can make it.”

You can watch the rest of Representative Barragán’s impassioned speech here

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) honored with Public Service Award 

Luis Guardia, President of FRAC

The UnidosUS Public Service Award was bestowed upon FRAC, an organization dedicated to ensuring access to healthcare, nutrition programs, and public services for immigrants. Luis Guardia, President of FRAC, accepted the award and expressed gratitude for the recognition. He reflected on his own journey of identity and belonging, highlighting the invaluable role organizations like UnidosUS play in fostering a sense of community and empowerment:

“I’m so delighted to accept this award, this award means so much to our organization, but also to me personally, and I’d like to share a little bit of that with you. Growing up a kid like me I often struggled finding identity and thinking where I fit in with family, roots in Latin America and being here in the United States in the 70s – there weren’t that many of us. But with organizations like [UnidosUS], I found a place I could figure out where I fit in, and where we fit in as an organization, as a people.”

You can catch the rest of Luis Guardia’s acceptance speech here.

Congressman Joaquin Castro receives ALMA Award

Congressman Joaquin Castro speaking at Capital Awards 2024

In addition to our honorees, an American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) Award was given to Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) for his tireless advocacy in increasing Latino representation in the media. His passionate plea for more diverse storytelling resonated deeply with the audience, reaffirming the importance of representation in shaping our collective narrative:

“[Having] more Latinos in journalism, entertainment, media, and publishing, it’s that representation that gets us more stories published, more stories in the classroom, more stories in our film theatres and on television.”

Remarks from UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía

Janet Murguia speaking at Capital Awards 2024

As the evening drew to a close, Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS, delivered a powerful message on the significance of diversity, equity and inclusion. She underscored the imperative of providing every child with the resources and opportunities they need to thrive in an increasingly diverse world: 
“One out of every four children born in this country is Hispanic. A child born today will be going to college in a multi-racial and multi-ethnic nation. It is in everyone’s interest that these children be healthy and have the tools – and the access – necessary for them to succeed, compete, and flourish in our global economy. Each of us needs to get in and embrace diversity as our superpower.” 
Watch Janet Murguía’s full speech here. 

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