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Former DNC finance chairman Henry Muñoz: Latinos 'need to lead ourselves'

Former DNC finance chairman Henry Muñoz: Latinos 'need to lead ourselves'

Former Democratic National Committee Finance Chairman Henry Muñoz said the volatility surrounding the pandemic and the 2020 election represents an opportunity for Hispanics to bolster leadership in their own communities.

"We really shouldn't wait for anyone to rescue us or lead us. We need to lead ourselves, which really is what Momento Latino is about," Muñoz told the Hill.

Momento Latino is Muñoz's latest initiative, co-founded with actress Eva Longoria Bastón, chef José Andrés and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroFormer DNC finance chairman Henry Muñoz: Latinos 'need to lead ourselves' Overnight Defense: Trump says he's leaving Walter Reed, 'feeling really good' after COVID-19 treatment | White House coronavirus outbreak grows | Dems expand probe into Pompeo speeches House Democrats push forward on probe of Pompeo's political speeches MORE (D-Texas) and others.

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The group consists of activists, businesspeople, politicians and artists seeking to improve outcomes for Latinos in health, the economy and education — three issues that regularly come up as top priorities for a community that has among the worst health outcomes in the country, is lagging in the accumulation of wealth and is much younger on average than other demographics.

"We're living in a moment, not just this year, but living in a moment in our country's history when people have bullied us, excluded us, arrested us, murdered us. We're getting sick, we're dying," said Muñoz, adding that the coronavirus pandemic has aggravated many of the social and economic indicators that affect Latinos.

"We've lost our jobs, we've lost our businesses, our kids haven't come back to school, we don't have WiFi," said Muñoz.

His remarks came at the conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month, which ended on Thursday amid a pandemic that's disproportionately affected U.S. Latinos.

But the pandemic's effects have been a double edged sword, pushing some in the community to the brink of poverty while raising the profile of essential workers in vital industries like health care and the food supply chain.

"We have always known how essential we are to this country. But this Hispanic Heritage Month, I hope that the rest of the United States can finally see the critical role we play in keeping American society moving forward," said Muñoz.

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Hispanic Heritage Month is usually observed in Washington, D.C., with galas and events where the Latino community's leaders from around the country converge to connect with donors and politicians.

This year, the period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 was instead celebrated on Zoom calls and livestream events.

"I don’t think we need galas or parties to celebrate who we are and what we have contributed to building our country," said Muñoz. "But this is a moment that demands a unified Latino voice, calling for justice, equality and respect.”