For his final Cinco de Mayo fiesta at the White House, President Barack Obama celebrated with some old friends, Maná, the Grammy and Latin Grammy winning band that helped get him to the White House a second time. It was the band’s first time to perform at the White House.
Their first public appearance with him came in a Latino Las Vegas neighborhood in the heat of the 2012 election, with Obama and Mitt Romney fiercely battling for voters and spending heavily on Spanish language television and radio in a tussle over the Latino vote.
More than 11,000 Hispanics showed up to the one-set concert at Desert Pines High School, according to reports. But even more important, hundreds registered and pledged to vote.
In a 2012 interview, Maná told NBC Latino they endorsed Obama and chose to perform for him in Nevada because they wanted to fight racism and support those who fight against marginalization. They said then that Democrats and Obama fit that definition and that Obama had pledged to keep working on immigration. Mana’s history of activism on human rights, the environment and other issues had given the band a place of trust in the community so that their appearance with Obama changed how many Latinos viewed the importance of participating in the election.
The group also appeared on stage with Los Tigres del Norte during the 2015 Latin Grammys to accept their “Best Pop Rock Album” award last November, and, after singing “Somos más americanos (We Are More American) they displayed a banner that read, “Latinos unidos no voten por los racistas (Latinos unite. Don’t vote for racists).
A month before the election, the band launches its tour dubbed “Latino Power Tour.” They’ll join with groups such as Voto Latino, as they have in the past, to register Latino voters and urge them to turn out in November. “It’s so important with this tour that we celebrate how Latinos have contributed to this country, how we’ve been part of that contribution that made this country so great,” drummer Alejandro “Alex” Gonzalez said. He called on Latinos to register and to “vote for the party that you think will contribute for the next four years for your community, to your state, to this amazing country,” he said.
The panel was moderated by actress Eva Longoria and also included as panelist actress Diane Guerrero, who has just released a new book about her parents’ deportation as well as New York City Council president Melissa Mark-Viverito.