Last Saturday, Carrboro High School hosted an event for National Hispanic Heritage Month with keynote speaker Eliazar Posada, a Carrboro Town Council member.
Esther Mateo-Orr, an equity specialist for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said Posada was chosen to speak due to it being both National Hispanic Heritage Month and LGBTQ+ History Month.
“We thought that intersection would be a wonderful topic of conversation,” Mateo-Orr said.
Posada was sworn in during June in Spanish. He is also the first openly LGBTQ+ Latino elected in the state.
At the event at Carrboro High School, Posada’s speech was mainly in Spanish, which Mateo-Orr said was intentional.
“I think it speaks a lot to the experience that the Latinx community has when they come to events in the district and have to be the ones that are on the receiving end,” Mateo-Orr said.
Translator devices were provided to everyone who needed them during the speech.
Mateo-Orr also said she was amazed by his speech, like always.
“Every time I hear him speak, I’m touched, not only by his experience, but by the way he has used his experience, positive and negative, to motivate him and bring him to where he is today,” she said.
During the event, Posada said in his speech that his early life was important in shaping his career.
Posada also said issues, such as home affordability, disproportionately impact people of color. He said he was able to move the Carrboro Town Council to invest more money into affordable housing and emergency housing.
He said he understands that money is still not enough and he plans to stay active on issues that come to his attention. He said he also encourages the community to let him and the other Council members know when issues arise.
“Our government can only work properly when we hear from the community who is mostly impacted by it,” Posada said.
To give people the opportunity to come out and speak to him in person, Posada said he will be doing a Cafecito Convos event on Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. at Open Eye Cafe, where he will allow people to come and speak to him about changes they want to see.
“I can’t guarantee you a home run, but if you give me a bat, I'll swing that bat for you,” Posada said.
Valerie Stewart, a parent of Carrboro Elementary School students, said she brought her kids to the event as a way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and hear Posada speak.
She said that although she only speaks English, she believes language is very important and currently has her sons in a bilingual program so they can learn and embrace different cultures.
“We wanted to come to hear more of his story and just better understand and engage on what we could be doing to be better allies in the work and make our community better,” Stewart said.
Stewart also said she believes it is important to diversify the leadership in communities, allowing for more representation.
Posada said it’s important to make relationships with people who don’t look like you or have the same experiences as you.
“While I represent a lot of our folks, I don’t represent everyone," he said. "Our community is diverse, it has a lot of opinions, it has a lot of different experiences. I just want to encourage everyone here to continue to honor those experiences."
Throughout the event, Posada continued to let attendees know that he is available to talk to the community and will always return any calls he receives.
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