For most of Saturday morning, the line to enter Guadalupe Plaza, where former Mayor Julián Castro officially launched his campaign to become president of the United States, encircled the West Side venue from Guadalupe to South Brazos to El Paso streets.
Even after everybody who wanted in got in, some passerby from this community opted to watch the spectacle from outside the hurricane fencing. All of the plaza was packed with Castro supporters and media from around the country.
“Today this community represents America’s future—diverse, fast-growing, optimistic—a place where people of different backgrounds have come together to create something truly special,” Castro told the enthusiastic crowd of several hundred.
On the risers behind Castro were his family, such as his mom Rosie and his brother Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio), and other local dignitaries such as Mayor Ron Nirenberg, former Councilwoman Maria Berriozabal, among others.
Supporters of all ages held up signs that were fabricated by the Castro campaign, and others that were homemade. He told the crowd that he and his family rode the No. 68 bus to the event, which is the same route he and his brother took to get from their Jefferson High School neighborhood home to Tafolla Middle School, three blocks from Plaza Guadalupe.
He laid out his platform, which touched on the need for what he called a better healthcare system, a reformed justice system, immigration and border security, and housing system. But he lead this part of the speech by touting Pre-K 4 SA.
“Here in San Antonio, I made Pre-K 4 SA happen,” President Barak Obama’s former housing secretary said. “As president, we’ll make Pre-K 4 the U.S.A. happen. Universal prekindergarten for all children whose parents want it, so that all of our nation’s students can get a strong start. And we won’t stop there.”
Castro, who later attended Jefferson High School in the San Antonio Independent School District, told the history of his family’s West Side roots. Castro was baptized at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church behind the plaza. His grandmother, Victoria, immigrated to the West Side from Mexico in 1922 when she was 7, and worked as a maid, cook and babysitter as a single mother.
“Just a couple days ago, President Trump visited McAllen, Texas, just south of here, after claiming that we’re facing an ‘invasion’ at our border,” Castro said. “He called it a national security crisis. Well, there is a crisis today—it’s a crisis of leadership. Donald Trump has failed to uphold the values of our great nation.”
As Daritza Coronel waited for Castro’s speech to begin, she explained why she decided to support the former mayor in person.
“Right now our people are under attack,” Coronel said. “We need someone who can lead and represent us. Julián Castro 2020 all the way.”
Outside the plaza, a small group of protestors representing groups such as the newly formed Tenants Union of San Antonio (TUSA) and Our Revolution San Antonio (ORSA) were protesting Castro’s housing policies, as the former San Antonio mayor and secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, they say made developers and the institution of Wall Street richer, while leaving renters and public housing residents behind.
“When we talk about this conversation of housing as it pertains to economic stability, tenants are definitely underrepresented in that,” said Marlon Davis of TUSA. “And this trend was evident in Castro’s administration, but also Nirenberg’s task force.”
Freelancer V. Finster contributed to this report.