Rewind: My America
Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content
Happy Thanksgiving! This week, we’re airing a rerun of the very first episode of Our America featuring Rosie and Joaquin Castro.
In 2012, on the stage of the Democratic National Convention, Julián Castro described the American Dream as a relay. In the first episode of Our America, we dig into the Castro family’s backstory. We follow the baton passing from one generation to the next, starting with Julián’s grandmother immigrating to the US nearly 100 years ago. Julián and his twin brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro, talk about their journey from the segregated West Side of San Antonio to the national stage. We also meet their mom, Rosie, an activist in her own right, who highlights raising her sons with a strong sense of Mexican-American identity and how that helped shape their life’s trajectory.
Keep up with Julián on twitter @JulianCastro and Instagram @JulianCastroTX.
Support the show by checking out our sponsors
- You can digitally purchase life insurance from Haven Life Insurance Agency at havenlife.com/ouramerica. Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC17DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is 0K71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.
- The Marguerite Casey Foundation, creating greater freedom for changemakers to create a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org, and connect with the Foundation on Twitter and Facebook.
To follow along with a transcript and/or take notes for friends and family, go to http://lemonadamedia.com/show/our-america shortly after the air date.
Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.
[00:42] Julián Castro: Hey, y’all, I’m Julián Castro. If you don’t know me, here’s my back story in a nutshell. I grew up on the west side of San Antonio with my twin brother Joaquin Castro, my mom, Rosie, and our grandmother, who we all called Mamo. At 26, I became the youngest city councilman in San Antonio history. And in 2009, I became mayor of my hometown.
[01:16] Julián Castro: I was launched onto the public stage after delivering the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. After that, I served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration. Just recently, I ran for president of the United States. Sounds impressive, right? Well, I’m not on the campaign trail anymore. I didn’t win. In fact, right now, I’m in my closet, literally. I’m currently sitting on the floor in front of my wife Erica’s shoes. Why? Because we’re doing this podcast. It turns out producing a podcast in the middle of a pandemic is more complicated than it seems. We set out to share the sounds of America. Right now, that means Zoom audio, and troubleshooting with people who don’t have access to two devices, or reliable Wi-Fi, or a closet recording booth. The whole idea of this show was to share how drastically the American experience shifts from one person to the next. But, in the midst of this pandemic, our day to day experiences are suddenly very similar. COVID-19, has forced many Americans to grapple with difficult questions. How do I keep my family healthy? How am I gonna pay the rent? What will I do without childcare? For some, these questions are new. They’re just hoping to get back to normal. But for many Americans, these questions are normal. We always hear about the cracks in the system, but now those cracks have become canyons. The pandemic has just revealed them on a wide scale. Why, in a country as prosperous as the United States, are millions of people still just trying to get by? What would it take to change that and realize the promise of this country? That’s what we’re here to find out.
[04:10] Julián Castro: Welcome to Our America. I’m your host, Julián Castro. Each week, we’ll take a look at a different American Experience. For episode one, I wanna tell you about mine, so you know where I’m coming from. And to help me do that, we’re talking to my brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro.
[04:37] Julián Castro: To the outside world, to many folks, we’re the same. People confuse us for each other, you know, five times a day, 10 times a day. On the campaign trail, people would ask, ‘oh, which one are you?’ And I remember a couple years ago, it was the day after one of Trump’s State of the Union addresses, and I walked into the elevator bank in a D.C. building and somebody says, ‘I liked the way you look on TV last night.’ And then I realized, what in the world is he talking — oh, you had been, I think, for like half a second, scowling at Trump on TV. And this guy thought I was you saying, ‘hey, man, I agree with that. Yeah, I like the way you looked on TV.’
[05:20] Joaquin Castro: You should have just taken credit for it.
[05:27] Julián Castro: You know, look, we grew up together, shared bunk beds, went to college together, went to law school together, got into politics around the same time, have both served in D.C. and we were there at the same time. Some people might say that you’re copying me since I’m a minute older than you are.
[05:45] Joaquin Castro: I can’t get rid of you. That’s the problem.
[05:48] Julián Castro: If somebody said, really, what are the biggest differences between the two of you? What do you see as the biggest difference?
[05:54] Joaquin Castro: Besides like, oh, I have a beard now, maybe that’s a big difference. Besides the physical stuff, I think that when people talk to us, it’s easier for them to tell who’s who. I think our personalities are a bit different. And neither one of us is super loud. But I think I’m a little bit more gregarious. I know that you had an interest in politics earlier than I did and in public service earlier than I did. I’ve always been more conflicted about it. You know, you were a little bit better in school. I think I was better in sports.
[06:29] Julián Castro: I mean, people have brothers and sisters that are close in age to them. They know that it’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s 99 percent blessing, but in the 1 percent curse category, it was always a competition.
[06:43] Joaquin Castro: Yeah. I mean, we were hyper-competitive in just about every way. And people ask like, oh, how did you both end up going to Stanford and Harvard and how did you both end up doing well? And I think without that competition, without somebody to measure myself by and to help drive me and push me, I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it. So in that way, it was very much a blessing, very much a good thing.
[07:13] Julián Castro: Yeah. So the first time that we ever ran for office, we ran together. And that was in 1995, when we were juniors at Stanford for the Stanford Student Senate. This was a crazy election because no one you had online voting in 1995. Ninety dollars spending limit. You could only campaign for one week, seven days. And there were 43 people running for 10 voting slots on the Stanford Student Senate .
[07:53] Joaquin Castro: I wish the elections were like that now. One week, 90 bucks. Well, we might need more than 90 bucks, but I think you came into the dorm room and said, hey, you know, we should do this. Even then, I mean, the same, like, reluctance that I have now on some things I think I had back then. But I thought, yeah, you know. OK. You know. Yeah, let’s do it. You know, so we made these flyers in different colors and then we started putting them up.
[08:23] Julián Castro: Well, and we found out where the best place to put them was in the bathroom stall, the back of the bathroom stall. So that when somebody sits down to go to the restroom, they have no choice but to look at your flier and read it. You got a captive audience. So I think, you know, they started calling us the Stall Twins or something. But that was our that was the most valuable piece of campaign real estate.
[08:47] Joaquin Castro: Which turned out to be very effective because on election night, everybody goes down to that wherever it was. And, you know, they’re announcing the candidates and then —
[09:00] Recording: First place, Julián Castro, people’s platform.
[09:05] Joaquin Castro: And you thought you’d beat me, I’m sure. And then the guy says —
[09:09] Recording: Also in first place with 811 votes, Joaquin Castro.
[09:18] Julián Castro: That was quite a moment. I think that was the first time that I remember ever hugging you. Like, ever actually hugging you. You and I are obviously super close, gone through life together the whole time, but didn’t have that kind of relationship, physically close or affectionate. But in that moment, in that first campaign — and I think it was like April 20th, 1995. I still remember the date. We did.
[09:57] Joaquin Castro: Yeah. I think, like a lot of brothers, like a lot of guys, you’re constantly joking with each other in a way that cuts each other down, I think, which is your sign of affection. I think part of that also was just being so competitive growing up. And in such close quarters. I mean, you’re talking about that house that we lived out on Globe. We moved four times growing up all over the west side of town. And it was, you know, our parents were together until we were eight. But it was my mom, my grandmother and us, and that’s it. And in that last house, it was probably 900 square feet. So you’re always around each other. You’re the same age. You’re doing the same things, in school together, experiencing the same thing. Just very competitive. And then to try to step back away from that as an adult and show affection for each other, to be quite honest, I never really adjusted well. I just, you know, I don’t think either of us did.
[11:02] Julián Castro: I think that’s true of a lot of people. I mean, I think you’re right. A lot of guys like you just expressing their emotion. But for you and me, it was so ironic because we were so close. We knew each other so well. We walked through the world together. But there was still like that barrier there. Describe what it was like to grow up on the west side of San Antonio in the 1970s and 1980s.
[11:35] Joaquin Castro: I mean, you know, we grew up really in what was what you would call now a marginalized part of town. Deeply Mexican-American, probably over 95 percent or so.
[11:49] Julián Castro: Basically a segregated part of the city.
[11:51] Joaquin Castro: It was an economically segregated part of the city, in many ways ethnically segregated. You know, if you were moving into San Antonio, it’s not the kind of place where real estate agents would be showing houses to people and saying, this is where you’ve got to live. And it was in some ways a forgotten part of town. And San Antonio, a lot of those problems still persist today. The economic segregation, at least.
[12:17] Julián Castro: What comes to mind when you think about the neighborhoods that we grew up in, what they looked like, what they felt like?
[12:24] Joaquin Castro: I mean, it felt like, at least on the outside, everything was crooked. The sidewalks had cracks in them and they were crooked, the curbs were crooked, the frames on the houses seemed crooked.
[12:37] Julián Castro: With a lot of stray dogs walking around, right?
[12:39] Joaquin Castro: Yeah, a lot of stray dogs. They were like communal dogs, I guess, because they felt like everybody owned them, because everybody knew who they were, you know, and they would roam in packs. What struck me there was the difference between the outside, what you saw if you were just somebody driving by in a car, versus what you would see if you actually walked into these people’s homes. And they were often kept in an immaculate way, with people who many of whom were deeply faithful and religious with, you know, the Cross or the Virgin Mary on the wall. And I remember thinking what a contrast between the inside and the outside, what most people see. And they never get to really know about the people here, these wonderful, hardworking people. You’re talking about like 800, 900 square feet homes, you know, where you usually had, like, multigenerational families. That’s the thing, people would take in relatives or extended relatives. Even if they didn’t have much space, they would do everything they could to help people out.
[13:47] Julián Castro: Next year is going to be 25 years since our grandmother, Victoria, that we called Mamo growing up passed away. She was the one that was there when our mom was a single parent, going to work every day. She was there during the summers taking care of us. She lived with us, so we were constantly around her. When we were little, we learned from her. I mean, she made it possible for our mom to be the career woman that she became, and then for us to be the good students and the success that we became.
[14:27] Joaquin Castro: I think about that now, you know, because you hear how much it costs to take people to daycare or, you know, to get them childcare, and our family was a family where multiple generations were leaning on each other to help. And without that, there’s no way that our mom could afford to go have a stay somewhere and pay a lot of money for that.
[14:53] Rosie Castro: For me, she was a big help. Otherwise, I couldn’t have worked and of course somebody had to work. I think she took great pride in being able to help bring you up. You know, one of the things about Mom was that she loved to sing and tell stories. I think during the time you spent with her, she was very much better than telling stories of her past, my past.
[15:41] Joaquin Castro: She seemed to have an internal optimism about her, even though she had gone through some pretty tough times starting when she was a little girl.
[15:52] Rosie Castro: My mother, Victoria Castro, who was orphaned in Mexico, and she was about six, seven years old. For her, the sadness of being torn away from her mother as her mother was dying, my mom never got over the pain of being taken away, separated from her mother.
[16:13] Julián Castro: I can remember when Joaquin Castro and I were eight, nine, 10 years old, that she would sometimes cry like a little girl, remembering having been separated from her mom, and that she didn’t get to say goodbye to her mom before she was brought into the country.
[16:39] Rosie Castro: Right. Yeah. If it was a pain for her for all of her life.
[16:45] Joaquin Castro: She came to the United States around 1922. And when she came to the United States, if you look at the documents that allowed her to come in, there’s a line in there that says something like purpose of visit. And one of her relatives in there wrote ‘to live.’ She was coming to live, which to me is really remarkable.
[17:08] Rosie Castro: My mother at that time was sent to school here in San Antonio, and really was only able to go about third grade, then she was pulled out of school. And ever since then, her education was very limited in terms of formal education. But she taught herself to read and write both in English and Spanish. And so she loved to read books. And I used to get her the large letter books, but she would read books all the time.
[17:42] Julián Castro: She had these books — Agatha Christie, V.C. Andrews, other mysteries. She would spend time at night in the room that we shared with her, just reading her books.
[17:55] Joaquin Castro: She had like a magnifying glass that she would use to look through those books, even though the print was fairly big already. I mean, you shouldn’t even have needed like the magnifying glass at that point.
[18:07] Julián Castro: That’s the woman she was. I mean, in so many ways, she was traditional. When we went to church, she would still put on a veil like older traditional women would in the Catholic faith. But at the same time, she used to watch soap operas and watch telenovelas all the time.
[18:28] Joaquin Castro: She was somebody that was, I think, caught between these two worlds, like many immigrants. And she was still in love with Mexican music and actors and Pedro Infante. But at the same time, liked Bing Crosby and, you know, and then all the soap operas and everything and the telenovelas. And she really experienced both of those worlds.
[18:51] Julián Castro: Yeah, she liked mariachi music. But I remember that two of her favorite songs were White Christmas by Bing Crosby and Lady by Kenny Rogers. She really was so fundamental to why we were able to do well in school and then become successful. I’m convinced we wouldn’t be anywhere near who we are today if it hadn’t been for her.
[19:19] Joaquin Castro: Yeah. I mean, what she did for us and for our family, obviously, as a grandparent, you know, how can you repay that?
[19:29] Rosie Castro: I think in a lot of ways also helped shape your ideas, because you got to understand what some of the problems that immigrants went through by seeing what had happened to her.
[19:41] Joaquin Castro: She worked all of those years, starting when she was a kid, and she worked as a maid scrubbing floors and washing clothes and then, you know, as a babysitter and a cook at that Doña Maria restaurant on Culebra Road. But she never had a pension — or I mean, she didn’t have a car. She didn’t know how to drive.
[20:05] Julián Castro: She never had a bank account. She never owned a house. That check that she would get every month, the Social Security check, which I think was like $335, that was it. I mean, that was really it for her after she stopped working. And that’s why when people talk about Social Security and what it means to people, I always think of her because without that, she would have literally had nothing at all. And then, of course, Medicare, which she had. But that was literally I mean, you’re talking about somebody that worked their whole life, multiple jobs at a time. And still when they were done with all of it, she had very little. And she couldn’t have lived except to live with our mom, her only child. There was no way that she was going to be able to live financially, independently off on her own. I think there’s a lot about parents and grandparents that you don’t quite understand until years later. And that’s the case with her, I think.
[23:31] Rosie Castro: I think that I always had kind of a rebel in me because I always questioned things. You know, politics for me, I got bitten by the bug and it never went away.
[23:44] Julián Castro: When I go out into the community here in San Antonio, so many people know me by you. They know you as somebody that fought for civil rights, that was an activist, that has tried to create more equality in San Antonio and in Texas beyond that. And they also know you as the mom of the twins. How do you think about your role both as an activist and as a mother? How did you balance that?
[24:16] Rosie Castro: Before you all were born, I was very involved in the community. And so that continued. Having both of you at the same time, you know, changed things in some ways because I think that when you don’t have children, at least in my case, you aren’t as fearful of what can happen. When you have children, you have to think about the family and about the consequences of your actions. So in some ways, that can be more frightening when you’re talking about issues that people don’t want to talk about. For example, in the ‘70s, we were dealing a great deal with police brutality then against Mexican-Americans, in particular in Texas. And as a consequence, you know, you’d get the late-night calls and hang ups, you’d get the crazy letters. Once y’all came into the picture, that’s not something that I wanted to take a chance with.
[25:18] Julián Castro: You know, growing up when you did in the 1950s, there was tremendous oppression of the Mexican-American community. Talk to me a little bit about that.
[25:32] Rosie Castro: The discrimination against us was overwhelming. And finding jobs was extremely difficult. Our dropout rate didn’t help. It was really a push-out rate. And at that time when I’m growing up, most of our teachers are not Latinas or Latinos. All the principals, all of the structure, all the institutions were Anglo-based. And needless to say, we were separate but not equal in any way whatsoever. I think one of the things that hurt me the most was watching the way our little children were taught to be embarrassed, were taught that they were inferior. Everything from what they ate, the tacos that they brought to school, because all that’s all they had, were made fun of. And now it’s so ironic because now everybody eats tacos. But at that time, people make fun of the bean eaters. You know, there were stereotypes and names we were called. And I can still remember those. You have to really, in order to maintain any kind of self concept, you had to find a place where you could build that. You have to have parents and help you do that, or mentors or somebody who will help you rise from the abject poverty and abject belief in you were never going to be able to amount to much.
[27:11] Julián Castro: Who helped you? How did you get past that?
[27:14] Rosie Castro: Well, one, I think, is religion because it has its negatives, but it has its positives, in that we are all children of God. So if that is the case, then, you know, you can see that some are treated more fairly than others. That shouldn’t be. So that’s one. But also being in a household raised by women, you see them, they’re the leaders. I mean, they’re the people that are making it possible to have clothes and food. And they’re working hard. And it’s very difficult because sometimes there’s not enough food and sometimes there’s 25 cents left, and that’s all you’ve got in the household. But they were making the sacrifices. They were working. They were coming home late at night. I remember my mother got mugged a couple of times, they stole her purse.
[28:12] Joaquin Castro: I think that our mom all those years saw how her mother was treated. You know, the society that they were living in at the time — my mom was born in 1947, and back then, for example, if you spoke Spanish in school, you got some form of corporal punishment. You got spanked or hit, verbally berated. And I think, you know, our mom grew up with a lot of frustrations about seeing that, and seeing her mom in those very servile positions that she worked in around wealthy folks, and how they sometimes took advantage of her. And I think that there was a lot of resentment about that. And certainly for Mexican-Americans at that time in the 1950s and 60s, you’re talking about folks that were economically, politically, culturally very disempowered in Texas at that time. And I think that’s part of what led to her activism, her own political activism, is wanting to change some of those things.
[29:30] Julián Castro: You got active in politics when you were young, you were in college, with the Young Democrats and then became part of Raza Unida party. In 1971, you and three other people ran on a slate called the Committee for Barrio Betterment for City Council in San Antonio. Why did you decide to jump into politics and what happened?
[30:00] Rosie Castro: We were young and we felt that we could do a better job of representing the people and the places that we lived in. We used to talk about the fact that in Texas there were better laws about the highways, funding about sheep and cattle, than about the education of children. And so many of us got tired of the fact that the party did not meet the needs of Mexican-Americans and were only interested in our vote, but really didn’t have any policies that were helpful to us. So we formed an alternative party called La Raza Unida party.
[30:42] News clip: In the largest cities under the banner of La Raza Unida. They picket and boycott and march to make their voices heard.
[30:54] Joaquin Castro: She was part of a movement of young people back then that stepped out and formed a third political party around the concerns of the Mexican-American community, which was a significant percentage of the state of Texas even back then.
[31:08] News clip: Hispanic Americans, sometime in this decade, they are expected to become this nation’s largest minority. Now, Chicanos, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and other groups shape a growing Hispanic presence in the American destiny.
[31:22] Joaquin Castro: And they call a lot of heat for that. They got called Communists. They got called radicals. They got blacklisted. You know, they got threatened. All of it. You know, I look at what’s going on now, you know, and they never pointed a gun at anybody. They never, you know, used violence to try to accomplish anything in politics. I mean, this was a political party that, by the rules, signed up to run candidates on the ballot for local office, for state office, in the truest form of American democracy.
[32:04] Julián Castro: Participating in the way that people say you should participate in the system.
[32:07] Joaquin Castro: Yeah. I mean, according to the Constitution, according to the state and federal laws. And yet even now, there are people, when they comment back on that political party, will comment that it was somehow radical or imply that it was somehow dangerous. These were people that were simply signing up candidates to run for office and getting behind campaigns. You know, there was a lot of political movements going on at the time, the anti-war movement, for example, the larger civil rights movement going on. But she jumped headfirst.
[32:45] Rosie Castro: Well, I worked hard on the right to vote at 18, because when I turned 18, I couldn’t vote. The voting age was 21. And it was during Vietnam, when our kids were being sent off to war, but they couldn’t even vote. And so it was important that we try to get the best representation for our community that we could.
[33:16] Julián Castro: I want to talk a little bit about you as a mom. I remember going to our middle-school orientation to start the sixth grade and getting into an auditorium at Rhodes Middle School, which is in San Antonio. Joaquin Castro and I were there with you and with a whole bunch of other students and their parents. And at some point in the presentation for orientation, a school counselor or administrator or a teacher that was speaking suggested that we should look around the room because up to half of us might not be there when it was time to graduate from the eighth grade and go on to high school, and then later that day or the next day, you took us out of that school.
[34:07] Rosie Castro: Right. And actually it was a principal that said that. My belief was you could not do this self-fulfilling prophecy thing. As soon as that man said that, we got up and went out to the principal’s office and signed you out of that school. And it was in the heart of the west side. But we found another one, which was really great, which was a multilingual school, La Joya. And you had to have a certain grade point average and you have to have an attendance, a good attendance. But it also was in the heart of the west side. But it was a wonderful school. And I was very glad that we found it, because I told folks, you know, my children would never go to school where people didn’t expect them to succeed. You always heard that education was important from my mom and from me, but also from your father. All of us felt that was important
[35:11] Julián Castro: Do you remember the first time that you thought about our heritage, about being Mexican-American, or saw that as something that was different from the mainstream?
[35:24] Joaquin Castro: You know, I don’t know if I remember the first time, but I do remember that even in our part of town, the west side of San Antonio, even within this largely Mexican-American community, there were people that were degrading each other based on ethnicity.
[35:41] Julián Castro: Yeah, there was a lot of internalized oppression. People used to call each other a wetback or mojado. There was sometimes a shame that people had toward their own culture.
[35:54] Joaquin Castro: Yeah, I think there was an internalized shame and an effort to throw that shame on somebody else so that you somehow also felt better about yourself. And all of this, I think, is without anybody — I mean, you’re talking about kids doing this, right? I mean, not even the adults. I’m talking about kids. So it’s not like people were knowing what they’re doing. But it speaks to, like this internalization,.
[36:21] Julián Castro: Well and it speaks to all the messages that you’re getting from media and society. And, you know, and a lot of times the baggage that your families bring, too, because they’ve been part of this.
[36:31] Joaquin Castro: Yeah, you think about the rules, the laws that you couldn’t speak Spanish in school, that if you did speak Spanish in school, you were some now dumb or remedial, or that you did something wrong. Well, when you carry out that policy on people for 50 years, or whatever it may have been, what do you think the effect is going to be on their offspring, their generations? It’s going to create this internalized shame, this internalized feeling of inferiority in people. And, you know, to some extent, that legacy carries on today. You know, I just saw a month ago, for example, that even in our home town, 65 percent Hispanic/Latino, that out of the 46 high schools in this city, none of them are named after a Latino or Latina. So you still — I mean, these problems have not completely gone away. They have gotten better. But you still have, you know, deep problems of cultural disempowerment.
[37:35] Julián Castro: Do you still consider yourself an activist today? And if you do, what does that look like? What does your activism today look like?
[37:54] Rosie Castro: Well, yes, to a certain extent still, because I try to contribute as best I can. I contribute politically to mainly women, but every once in a while, some males.
[38:08] Julián Castro: Thank you for sending your 50 dollars my way and Joaquin Castro’s way, too.
[38:15] Rosie Castro: Yeah, but it’s a small contribution, but I try to make contributions still. And of course, right now I’m working on putting signs out for Joaquin Castro’s race for Congress.
[38:25] Julián Castro: That’s right. You carry signs of his in your trunk.
[38:30] Rosie Castro: You have to be prepared.
[38:33] Julián Castro: In fact, Erica and I, we didn’t have one in our lawn up until about two weeks ago, you noticed. And we live in his district. So you came back to the house and you put a sign in the lawn.
[38:45] Rosie Castro: That’s right.
[38:49] Julián Castro: What do you hope for this country? What do you want for this country?
[38:53] Rosie Castro: I want for this country to live up to those ideals that it espouses and has always espoused, both in the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance that we say, liberty and justice for all. But truly, for all. A place of opportunity. A place where homelessness does not exist, where we can take care of each other. Where hunger is done away with. Where people have opportunities to be the fullest self without impediments of others using their prejudice and biases against those people. I want a place where immigrants are welcomed again and not put in cages and not separated from their parents. I don’t want to see intolerance and the hatred that we have seen towards immigrants and towards minorities and towards folks who are different.
[39:55] Julián Castro: How do you think that our family’s story and our mother’s activism has affected what you focused on as a state representative, as a Congressman?
[40:01] Joaquin Castro: I think it gave me early on a sense of purpose. I think if I had not grown up with my mom, who was so active in politics, who believes that people in government and elective office could make a difference in people’s lives for the better. That government, when it works right, can actually help people in their lives. I wouldn’t have gotten into politics. I honestly, I don’t know how much I would care about politics if I hadn’t had that upbringing. If she hadn’t been my mom.
[40:33] Julián Castro: For me, her activism and the struggle of our grandmother affected what priorities I pursued in public service, especially educational opportunities, because we grew up with a grandmother that really didn’t have any, and saw that our mom was able to go further because of it. So for me, our family’s activism and history, immigration story, our American Dream story has affected what I do in politics, what I focus on, and also the vision that I have for the country.
[41:21] Joaquin Castro: To a great degree, I think it shaped the way that I look at the world, because one of the essential things that people in government is to make sure that in this country that is the wealthiest country on earth, that we create and maintain an infrastructure of opportunity, so that people can pursue their American dreams. And that just as there’s infrastructure of roads and streets and highways that helps all of us get to where we want to go on the road, if you think about it, in this country, there is an infrastructure of opportunity that helps people get to where they want to go in life. And the history of this nation has been the history of people like our mom and others fighting to make sure that every American has access to that infrastructure of opportunity. Whether it was women, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ+, everybody in this country, there has been a struggle through so many movements and so many people to make sure everybody has opportunity in this country. And I think that I came to see the world in that way and my role in that way in large part because of her work.
[42:39] Julián Castro: After talking to Joaquin and my mom, it got me thinking about my family’s unlikely journey. I still believe, as I said on the DNC stage years ago, that the American Dream isn’t a sprint or a marathon, but a relay. Mamo arrived in America almost 100 years ago. She passed the baton of opportunity to my mom that Joaquin and I later took to reach our own dreams. Our America and our hard work made those dreams possible. The thing is, for too many families today, the hard work is still there, but our America isn’t working out quite the same way. The American Dream is in doubt. How do we change that? Join us as we tell those stories, and explore solutions. We started this series in San Antonio with my family story. Next week, we’re going to Flint.
[43:37] Woman: When it came to this water crisis, being a mother, it tugged on my heartstrings in a way that I don’t know that I can properly articulate. When you see people come through our water distribution, which is essentially a water drive-through, I mean, you see children in a back seat that have rashes on their wrist or on their arm or on their face. If you are human and if you have any ounce of compassion in you, it does something to you, because you know that this is not a disaster such as a tornado or, you know, this isn’t a nature thing that took place. This was decisions that were made by people, and as a result, lives have been lost.
[44:35] Julián Castro: Our America is a Lemonada Original. The show is produced by Jackie Danziger. Our Associate Producer is Giulia Hjort. Kegan Zema is our editor. Music is by Hannis Brown. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Julián Castro. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us @lemonadamedia across all social platforms or find me on Twitter @Julián CastroCastro or on Instagram @Julián Castrocastrotx