U.S. Attorney General addresses National Council of La Raza
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- One of the largest Latino conventions ever kicked off in Las Vegas this weekend.
The choice of keynote speakers signals how important their vote will be in the race to win the White House.
Vice President Joe Biden will address the National Council of La Raza on Tuesday. On Saturday, it was U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's turn.
Holder told a crowd, the fight for racial equality is far from over, and vowed, in this election year, that President Barack Obama is making that fight a priority.
"I want to assure you, that in the fight to protect the civil rights of all, this organization will never have a more committed partner than the United States Department of Justice."
It was a promise NCLR Vice President Eric Rodriguez said his organization's members wanted to hear. Rodriguez said, "I think it's an important statement to make before our audience and audience of leaders who are fighting against discrimination and fighting for equality of our people."
Holder was the keynote speaker at a luncheon for nearly 2,000 people at Mandalay Bay, the site of NCLR's four-day conference. The nation's largest Hispanic and civil rights organization is meeting for the first time in Las Vegas.
Workshops for about 5,000 attendees are balanced by a free family expo. NCLR Vice President Eric Rodriguez said it serves a dual purpose; giving Latino families information and getting to the ballot box.
Rodriguez said, "As long as Latinos stay home or aren't registered and aren't getting out there to mobilize, then leaders and political leaders can play lip service to our community. And I think, unfortunately, that's what we've been seeing for far too long."
Holder focused on actions the U.S. Department of Justice has taken under President Obama's administration, including increased prosecution and convictions of civil rights cases and cases of predatory and discriminatory lending.
He hailed the defeat of major portions of Arizona's immigration law, but both he and Rodriguez said it's up to Latinos to actually get to the polls to ensure further progress.
Rodriguez said NCLR is concerned about efforts across the country to suppress voters. He said 9 million Latinos who are eligible to vote are not registered.
Holder pledged, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating voter suppression efforts and will prosecute them.
The Latino vote helped President Obama win Nevada in 2010.