LAWRENCE – In the 36 years of its existence, Lawrence’s Hispanic Week celebration has grown, and the annual kickoff luncheon makes that fact easy to see. Since the first “Semana Hispana,” the opening ceremony has outgrown a church function hall and a school gymnasium. This year, it even attracted U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who shared some remarks about Lawrence’s importance to her campaign.
“(Semana Hispana) is a terrific event because it celebrates our values, and it celebrates so many different values,” she said at yesterday’s luncheon. “I am grateful to be in Lawrence because Lawrence turned out in this election. Lawrence said, ‘We care about our future.’”
She spoke of Mayor Daniel Rivera, who worked on her campaign, as a like-minded leader, focused on championing the needs of his constituents regardless of their socioeconomic background. The response from the crowd appeared enthusiastic, with hands rising into the air in response to Warren asking who has been affected by student loans.
“We should be investing in the people trying to get an education,” she said, after speaking briefly about the bill she wrote that would allow student loans to be refinanced at lower rates. It has been passed by the U.S. Senate, but still awaits a vote from the House of Representatives.
Warren also commended the organizers of Semana Hispana for the theme of the festival this year: “Honor Our Heroes.” Before she took the podium, the two grand marshals of the festival, decorated veterans Master Sgt. Yahaira Michel-Smith and Sgt. 1st Class Jaime Meléndez briefly shared their stories with the audience. Michel-Smith credited her upbringing in Lawrence with her success in her professional and personal life.
“Without my family, I wouldn’t be the woman, the soldier, the mother, the teacher and the daughter I am today,” she said.