Bridges, not walls, was the overarching message at RiseUp AS ONE, a live concert event fittingly held along the U.S./Mexico border in San Diego on Saturday (Oct. 15).
The concert, broadcast live in both English and Spanish on FUSION and Univision, and streamed worldwide, featured a lineup of Latin American artists, including Alejandro Sanz, Miguel Bosé, Julieta Venegas, Los Tigres del Norte, Lupillo Rivera, Carlos Vives and Natalia Lafourcade, as well as appearances from Gael Garcia Bernal, Wilmer Valderrama, and T Bone Burnett.
The free event, which drew some 15,000, was promoted as a “celebration of music, diversity and unity,” and artists and hosts Jorge Ramos and Alejandra Espinoza drove that message home throughout the night.
“I refuse to believe this is a country full of hate,” said Ramos. “I can’t accept that racism and discrimination is the only way to relate to each other.”
Even so, a few shots aimed at Donald Trump were inevitable, especially considering the Republican presidential nominee’s many anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican statements made throughout this election cycle. It all made for an empowering call to political action.
Here are five memorable moments:
1. The Push to Rock the Voto: If there was one major goal of the event, it’s getting Latinos in the voting booth on Nov. 8. Espinoza said, “There are 27 million Latinos with the right to vote. If we all vote, we have immense power.” Jorge Hernández, lead singer for opening performers Los Tigres del Norte, draped himself in a Mexican flag and pushed Latinos to demand respect as Americans by exercising their right to vote, transitioning into Los Tigres’ “Somos Mas Americanos” (“We are More American”). Bose added greater urgency, saying: “On Nov. 8, you have a very important appointment, one in which you will decide whether you want progress and dignity, or whether you want regression and chaos.”
2. Andra Day’s Stirring Performance of “Rise Up”: Backed by high school students from a San Diego’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, the R&B/soul singer brought the house down with a powerful performance of her hit song. Her voice carried through the crowd and induced strong chills.
3. Artists Stand Up to Trump: With such rampant intolerance and xenophobia playing center stage this election year, artists took the mic to take down the Republican nominee. Actor Gael Garcia Bernal clapped back at Trump’s infamous speech denouncing Mexicans as “rapists” and “thieves” by editing it live on air to reflect what he believes a true presidential nominee should be saying. “When Mexico sends people, they are sending the best,” he said. But perhaps the most powerful anti-Trump declaration was made by Mexican-American singer Lila Downs, who premiered her song “The Demagogue” at the concert. With lyrics like There’s a blue eyed devil man/ Thinks he’s king of the world/ He’s a bully, a salesman/ Selling fear and hate,” Downs didn’t shy away from ripping into The Donald.
4. The Heart Wrenching Immigrant Pride Montage: The special video featured stories and a showing of pride from immigrants and children of immigrants of various backgrounds. Among them was actor and activist Wilmer Valderrama, who shared his experience as the child of immigrants and why he feels it’s his duty to participate in the democratic process as a representative for his parents, who are unable to vote. It made for an inspirational call for empathy, inclusion and tolerance, and lead to a few tears from the crowd.
5. Residente is Begrudgingly with Her: Before closing the concert with his new song “Latinoamérica” alongside Downs and T Bone Burnett, Puerto Rican rapper Residente gave the most halfhearted endorsement of the night. “Both candidates are terrible, but we have to vote for the least terrible, which is Hillary.”
6. Natasha del Toro Keeps in 100: While most artists on the lineup came out in full force to challenge Trump and demand humane treatment of immigrants, the journalist and host of PBS’ America ReFramed went full Fiona Apple, saying on air, “There’s a lot of hateful rhetoric out there around immigrants. Let me tell you, it’s a bunch of bullshit.” While the night’s many inspirational speeches were uplifting, this moment of sheer bluntness was refreshing. Bonus: Watching as host Jorge Ramos attempts to keep a straight face after del Toro’s remark. Spoiler: He does not.