Pa. Latino Convention returns to Reading, aiming to tackle poverty, health inequities and other issues

Written by on June 18, 2021

Pa. Latino Convention returns to Reading, aiming to tackle poverty, health inequities and other issues

By Anthony Orozco / WITF

June 18, 2021

State Rep. Manuel Guzman Jr of Reading speaks outside of Reading City Hall during the announcement of the 2021 Pennsylvania Latino Convention. Photo | Anthony Orozco / WITF

Latino leaders from across the state said Thursday the 2021 Pennsylvania Latino Convention will take place in Reading this fall.

Norman Bristol Colon, the chairman and founder of the convention, was joined by elected officials and others outside Reading City Hall to make the announcement.

The convention took place in Reading last year, mostly virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bristol Colon said he wanted to return to Reading for several reasons. First, Berks is a standout area in terms of Latino representation.

“We need to make sure that we bring the convention back to a place where Latinos at the state and at the national level are looked at as a community that is standing up, that is really moving forward, that politically is achieving a lot of power,” Bristol Colon said in an interview before the news conference.

Reading Mayor Eddie Moran is the first Latino mayor of the Latino-majority city, which is also the fifth largest city in the commonwealth; Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera is the first Latino to sit on that board; and State Rep. Manuel Guzman of Reading is the first Latino state legislator from Berks as well as a founding member of the recently formed Latino caucus in Harrisburg.

Guzman said the convention, like the Latino caucus, will bring attention to Latino needs and empower Latino candidates in Pennsylvania.

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“We will continue to put our issues at the forefront, we will continue to encourage our Latino candidates to run for office and one day we may even see a Latino governor,” Guzman said.

Guzman encouraged Latinos from across the state to visit the city for the convention.

This year the convention is slated to be an in-person two-day event at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Reading.

The event will take place Sept. 29-30, which is in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Bristol Colon said one big goal for the convention is to establish a nongovernmental statewide commission on Latino poverty to “address possibly the number one issue we have that has an effect on everything from politics, to education, socially and economically for the Latino community.”

Other issues that will be addressed at the convention include education, youth engagement and health inequities faced by Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While encouraging people to continue to get vaccinated, organizers said they hope the convention will also be a celebration in which members of the Latino community can reunite after more than 18 months of social distancing.

More details about the convention will be shared in coming weeks at www.palatinoconvention.com.

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