The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 21, 2013

Latinos take on bigger role in Obama inauguration

— WASHINGTON (AP) — Latinos are taking a more prominent role in President Barack Obama's second inauguration, from the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice swearing in the vice president to a star-studded concert celebrating Latino culture.

Eva Longoria, a co-chairwoman for Obama's campaign, hosted "Latino Inaugural 2013: In Performance at the Kennedy Center" as a salute to the president Sunday evening ahead of his public swearing-in Monday. Jose Feliciano, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno and Latin pop star Prince Royce all performed. The lineup also included Mario Lopez and Wilmer Valderrama.

Vice President Joe Biden and his family appeared onstage, drawing big cheers, to help open the show. He said he wanted to thank Latinos for their support in last year's election.

Biden said something profound happened with the enormous Latino support for Obama, and he said the Latino community underestimates its power.

"One thing that happened in this election, you spoke. You spoke in a way that the world, and I mean the world, as well as the United States, could not fail to hear," Biden said, calling the Latino vote decisive. "This is your moment. America owes you."

Feliciano opened the show by singing the national anthem.

Marc Anthony later drew big cheers when he applauded Latinos' growing political influence.

"Our united voice got us all here tonight and got the best man for the job in the White House," Anthony said.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who gave the keynote speech at last year's Democratic National Convention, recalled the admiration Latinos held for another president more than 50 years ago. Portraits of President John F. Kennedy still hang in many homes, he said.

"As we said 'Viva Kennedy' 50 years ago, today we say 'Viva Obama,'" Castro said.

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