My name is Antonio Jauregui, and I am a youth leader from Fresno, California, and a member of the Fresno Boys and Men of Color. During my spring break, other youth leaders from the Central Valley and I visited our nation’s capital. For five days we toured the city and visited various memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial—both of which were my favorite.
What I liked about the Lincoln Memorial was the Gettysburg Address engraved onto the wall and how Lincoln was positioned, with his foot stepped out as if he were to get up from his chair. What caught my attention at the MLK Memorial was the engraving, “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
This made me connect to the advocacy work and the adversity I have overcome to bring more parks to south Fresno—where there is fewer park space for residents than there is in the northern parts of town—and more leadership opportunities for boys and young men of color like myself.
It was my first time visiting Washington, D.C. and the feeling I got was completely different than the one back home. I walked through Washington, D.C. with my head high, empowered by my sense of leadership. I had multiple meetings with directors of programs including My Brother’s Keeper but I will forever remember meeting with Representative Tony Cardenas.
The meeting began with Rep. Cardenas giving us his undivided attention and offering advice that would lead him to share something a little more urgent. Representative Cardenas told us that our community needs to #GetLoud—to get active and to vote. He used my advocacy for more parks in south Fresno as an example for my community to exercise their power and #GetLoud by voting.
My visit to our nation’s capital allowed me to reflect what my role is as a young leader. The opportunity to meet community leaders whose life story and journey I could identify with galvanized my commitment to my community. I know it is within me to advocate for health and justice for all communities. I feel with a strong conviction the urge to do more for my community, find a way to get #GetLoud, motivate others to vote, and together, work to create #OneHealthyFresno.