Manuel Abarca IV

Deputy Director for U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II

Where were you born and raised?
I was born on the Kansas City, Kansas side and raised on the Kansas City, MO side.

What is your family heritage?
I am Mexican-American.

What is your occupation?
I am the Deputy Director for U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II.

How have you supported or contributed to the local Hispanic/Latinx community?
I do my best to be a voice for the Latino/x community in Kansas City. As one of the lone Latino elected officials, on the school board I directly represent some 33% of the entire school district. My service on a myriad of boards from the School Board to my Neighborhood Board allow me to make sure our community has a seat at the table. I pride myself on not only being present, but also bring younger latinos with me along the way. We thrive together.

How do you connect with your Hispanic/Latinx culture?
Music, Art, people, experiences, where I live...there is always more to learn and grow from.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Fiesta's have been and always will be a time of celebration for our community. If for no other reason, than to celebrate and showcase our culture for everyone to enjoy. Whether it by the Fiesta at Emerson Park in KCK or the Fiesta at Barney Ellis, we will all be missing them this year.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
It is a moment to pause and acknowledge who we are as a people and recognize the pride we have deep within us that rushes to my heart every time I hear a kumbia, or the tear that comes to my eye at the end of La Bamba...we are a proud but humble people, we must acknowledge and celebrate our culture more. Lets celebrate this year by VOTING and making sure that everyone hears what we care about.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing the Hispanic/Latinx community?
Representation: I am one of the lone Latino/x elected officials in the KCMO area. We represent, at least-sense the census doesn't truly measure our community appropriately, 13% of the broader population in KCMO. In the Kansas City Public Schools Latinx families represent 33% of the population. We must have stronger presence wherever decisions are being made. Our current census participation hovers around 50% in census tracks that are traditionally Latinx areas, that means for the next decade we will be short changing ourselves in resources our communities receive and elected representation, yet we are the fastest growing population in the country. Sadly, political forces have been at play to scare our families from participating and thus keeping us regressed in our rightful places in society.

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