2020 UnidosUS Capital Awards Honor Xavier Becerra, Michael Steele and Eight El Paso Organizations
Changemakers who have demonstrated excellence in fields of advocacy, philanthropy and communications also honored
WASHINGTON, DC—UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, awarded the organization’s 2020 Capital Award to Attorney General of California Xavier Becerra and former Maryland lieutenant governor and former chair of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele. Eight El Paso community-based organizations received the organization’s award for Public Service. The 2020 Annual UnidosUS Capital Awards, presented virtually this year, honors public figures, politicians and organizations that have championed policies and causes empowering the Latino community.
“In his nearly 25 years in Congress, Xavier Becerra was a champion for working families, for women and for the Latino community and rose to become Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. But in 2016, he decided the Latino community and the country would need a strong and powerful legal advocate to counter the policies of the incoming Trump administration,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía. “From day one, as California’s first Latino Attorney General, Xavier Becerra has been at the forefront in challenging this administration’s policies, filing 100 lawsuits, including successful lawsuits on the census citizenship question, the termination of DACA, and the undermining of the Affordable Care Act. He has become an indispensable national leader in the fight against the bigoted, cruel, ineffective and unconstitutional policies of the last four years.”
“On the other side of the aisle, there have been champions too,” Murguía said. “Like Republican leaders such as President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush, there are still Republican leaders who advocate for a ‘ big tent’ party and one of the most prominent is Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland and former chair of the RNC. Not only does he reject the xenophobia and racism too often found in today’s Republican Party, he has been outspoken in his opposition to the ending of DACA and to the cruel and needless separation of families at the border. For his fight against bigotry and his advocacy of common ground instead of division, we are pleased to honor him.”
This year’s Public Service Award was presented to eight El Paso community-based organizations as they stood tall in the face of tragedy to support the city in the aftermath of the August 3, 2019 mass shooting. The awardees include:
- Annunciation House
- Border Network for Human Rights
- UnidosUS Affiliate Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe
- Hope Border Institute
- UnidosUS Affiliate Project BRAVO
- UnidosUS Affiliate Project Vida
- Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
- UnidosUS Affiliate YWCA El Paso del Norte Region
“The August 2019 shooting of 22 people in El Paso, Texas, shattered our community and shattered that warm and welcoming city,” Murguía said. “I saw that firsthand when I visited in the aftermath of that tragic day. But I also saw how our Affiliates were there for them when no one else was, helping them with both financial and emotional support. All of our Affiliates stepped up because the community needed them and because that is what they do. They helped the city and the community mourn, they helped the victims cope and now they are working hard to help El Paso heal. The Latino community, and especially the country, can never forget that what happened that day happened because of hate, and we will never forget that what happened the next day, thanks in large part to our Affiliates, happened because of love.”
In addition, UnidosUS highlighted the Annual Awardees during the program. This distinction is typically given in person at the UnidosUS Annual Conference. Since this year’s Conference was an abbreviated format, the Annual Awardees were instead presented during the 2020 Capital Awards.
The Annual Awardees this year are social justice activist and philanthropist Henry Muñoz; Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance Ai-jen Poo; CBS News political correspondent Ed O’Keefe; 2016 Olympic Gold and Silver Gymnastics Medalist Laurie Hernandez and Prudential Financial. Centro Campesino in Florida City, Fla., is the UnidosUS Affiliate of the Year.
Comedian, Writer, Actor and Producer Al Madrigal; Writer, Performer and Community Organizer Noel Quiñones; and Grammy Award-winning band Ozomatli also performed.
Erika Gonzalez of NBC4 Washington served as host of the event. Wells Fargo served as the presenting sponsor and Nationwide as the event chair.