The entire country, not just Washington, DC, is getting ready to celebrate the Inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama, on January 20th. Latinos are also adding to the many celebrations taking place in honor of our soon-to-be presidente with special events in the capital. While Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero will be the only Latina participating in the official inauguration ceremony performing alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Aretha Franklin and others, the bash receiving most attention is the Latino Inaugural Gala 2009 taking place on Sunday. Marc Anthony, Alejandro Sanz, Paulina Rubio, Don Omar, Lila Downs, Cucu Diamantes & Yerba Buena, WAR, Michael Salgado, and countless more are expected to perform. Celebrities making appearances will be Voto Latino co-founder Rosario Dawson, Luis Guzman, Adam Rodriguez, Wilder Valderrama, Angelica Vale, Rosie Perez and Tony Plana. Daddy Yankee? Nowhere to be seen.
Many of the performers expected at the inaugural bash showed public support for Obama during his campaign in a video spot called Podemos con Obama in an effort to motivate Latinos to register and vote.
The glitzy A-list event is sure to grab a lot of attention. Songstress Lila Downs has mentioned that she will take the opportunity to ask Obama for immediate immigration reform that will end the suffering of millions of Mexicans and Latin Americans.
Nonetheless, the gala hosts wish to use the event as a celebration of the 67 percent of all Latino voters that contributed to the outcome of the 2008 elections. Obama has already laid out his vision for resolving the key issues affecting the Latino community in his Latino Blueprint for Change (which you can view here). The detailed plan includes passing comprehensive immigration reform, improving unemployment rates, currently the highest among Latinos, and signing a universal health care plan by the end of his first term that will benefit the one third of all Latinos currently without health insurance.
Obama has also promised to make his new cabinet one of the most diverse in its history by including Latino political players. Although Bill Richardson withdrew his nomination to the cabinet due to a recent federal investigation, other Latino nominees include Senator Ken Salazar for Secretary of the Interior and Representative Hilda Solis for Secretary of Labor.
Obama is expected to attend the pre-inaugural bash, but a ticket to the black-tie event will set you back $200 with all proceeds going towards the building of the National Museum of the American Latino in Washington D.C. If you are heading to D.C. for the festivities, be sure to check out other Latino celebrations, fund-raisers, and discussions by clicking here.