unity day 050323SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus joined nonprofit organizations, advocates, Latino associations and community members to celebrate the 11th annual Latino Unity Day at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

“Our communities deserve quality education, good-paying jobs, access to health care and affordable college. Our communities deserve to be safe and to have opportunities for everyone, not just to survive, but to thrive,” said joint Latino Caucus Chair Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago). “That’s why we’re here today – because while we’ve done a lot of work as the Latino Caucus, there is so much more to be done, and the way to do this is by all of us working together.”


Tuesday and Wednesday marked the two-day Latino Unity Day event, held annually in Illinois through a collaboration of Latino-led organizations and coalitions. This year’s theme is “Building Illiñois – Unidos y Fuertes,” a focus on communities standing united and strong in their pursuit of a shared vision that uplifts Latino families and delivers equity to a unique and diverse community.

 More than 300 people came to Springfield to celebrate Latino Unity Day and meet with legislators to advocate for policies that benefit and address the needs of Latino communities. Latino Caucus officials were joined by advocates and paleteros at a rally outside the Capitol on Wednesday morning. Paleteros, frozen ice cream sellers that are staples in their communities, push mobile carts through residential areas and parks in the summer serving paletas – frozen treats made with fresh fruit, similar to a popsicle. State Senator Karina Villa took the opportunity to read Senate Resolution 221 at the rally, a measure she sponsored to declare May 3, 2023 as "Paleteros Day" in the state of Illinois.

“Paleteros flourish within Latino-based communities across Illinois,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “For generations, they have been bringing joy to the children and residents of the communities they serve. While their hard work and dedication to the paleta profession often goes unnoticed, it is essential that we continue to fight for them to have a safe space within our neighborhoods.”

The Illinois Latino Agenda, a coalition that advocates for representation of Latinos across all sectors and works to advance the prosperity of Latino communities throughout Illinois, traveled with its members to the Capitol for Latino Unity Day.

“This Latino Unity Day, we are elevating the economic and cultural contributions of Latinos that have helped shape Illinois, its economy, neighborhoods, families, schools and local governments. We stand firm — united and strong — in the fact that investing in Latinos is investing in a greater Illinois,” ILA released in a statement.

The Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus is dedicated to bettering the lives of Latinos by working to develop and pass legislation that has a positive impact on the lives of the over two million Latinos living in Illinois.

In the final weeks of the spring legislative session, the Latino Caucus looks forward to negotiating a budget that strengthens underserved communities and lifts up Latino families across Illinois.

In Spanish, English subtitles provided: