Insights: Perspectives Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 | Alejandro Lopez
I was born on the border in Laredo, Texas. I come from a family of farm workers. My parents are from Mexico, but my siblings and I were born in the United States, so I am proud to be a first-generation Mexican-American. As a young child, my sisters and I would stay with my grandparents across the border while my parents would take my older brothers with them to Texas for the summer harvesting season. When I was eight, our family moved to Hereford, a small town in the Texas panhandle. I started working alongside my family as a farm worker from the age of eight through 18 when I graduated high school. I was so excited to join my family and experience what I could only imagine as a kid. You could say that I literally learned what it took to put food on the table.
One of my favorite childhood memories was when my aunts, uncles and other relatives would gather at my grandparents’ home for our annual reunion. There was always great food like carne asada, mole, tacos and other dishes my aunts and uncles would brag about. My favorite part was when everyone sat down to play LOTERIA. We brought change we had collected during the past year, because the more change we could bring, the longer we could play. We started with pennies then the game progressed up to nickels, dimes and finally quarters. This is when the wins became intense. When the game was over, we would all contribute to a fund to help family members pay for the immigration process from Mexico to the US. After years and years, all our family members who were still living in Mexico qualified to immigrate to the USA.
After serving in the U.S. Army, I moved to Atlanta in 1997. When I first got here there was a small Hispanic community. Over the years, that community has grown and thrived, but we have also faced many challenges regarding political divisions around immigration, and how the immigrant community as a whole has been treated. In spite of those challenges, today I am hopeful because I see a new generation stepping up to run for school boards, city council, and the legislature. Many others have stepped up to become attorneys. I have personally become active as a campaign volunteer, working on voter registration, assisting with the GALEO (Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials) Leadership Council, and volunteering with other community service events.
I am glad to have been able to contribute to so many causes across our great state of Georgia throughout the years. At 55 years old, I am not sure where my journey will lead me, but I am always an optimist. I remain hopeful that our community and our allies will continue to succeed in so many ways.
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