The Latino Congress was conceived around two decades ago as part of the community organizing effort that generated the Latino Community Credit Union, a financial institution created in response to an intense wave of crime in Durham. The credit union first opened in Durham after large mobilizations in response to violent crimes and home inasions against unbanked Latinos. The blending of community organizing and financial services proved to be a strong way to build collective power.
The unprecedented growth of the credit union in Durham (400 members a month), and the need for financial services across the state generated the vision for expansion. The Latino Congress was then envisioned as the statewide field of membership of the credit union. After its initial organizing drive the Latino Congress became an independent organization. Today it functions as an independent non-partisan organization.
Over the past years, the Latino Congress has demonstrated an ability to effectively organize Latinos across the state through deep relationships of trust with key leaders and institutions, as well as our longevity in this work. The Latino Congress is currently positioned as a strong grassroots statewide organized network focused on leadership development, civic engagement and direct public action. We support Latino leaders in learning about the political and economic reality of the state, and to act together in order to change it. In this model, our grassroots networks function as hubs for leaders to multiply the impact of our civic engagement strategy.
Together we have organized several public discipline actions with decision makers averaging turnout of 1000 delegates of the Latino Congress.
In 2016, Latino Congress implemented an ambitious civic engagement strategy including the registration of new Latino voters, voter education contacts in person, by mail, and by phone, and GOTV. We held trainings across nine counties. The Latino Congress sponsored a 1,200 person statewide, nonpartisan gathering with candidates for governor and attorney general. In 2017, our leaders held public negotiations with the newly elected governor, the attorney general, the secretary of health and human services as well as with several police chiefs ad sheriffs across the state.