By Robert Rivard

One month from today, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro will take the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and speak to America. What will he say? Rephrasing that question for all his friends and supporters in San Antonio, what should he say?

The Rivard Report invites readers, including students, to post your suggestions for Mayor Castro and his speechwriters to consider.

Mayor Julián Castro speaking in support of the May bond election. (Photo courtesy City of San Antonio.)

The Obama campaign has handed Castro an extraordinary opportunity, a once in a lifetime chance for a young, rising star on the national political scene. It was this very same kind of opportunity that vaulted then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama into the national limelight in 2004 when he delivered the Democratic Convention keynote address. Obama was running for the U.S. Senate at the time and, arguably, had less of a national profile than Castro enjoys today.

Both Clinton and Obama offer object lessons for Mayor Castro as he readies for the national stage.

Castro, only 37 years old, could fulfill the same ultimate dream for Latinos.We’ve watched him mature as a leader and public speaker in his time as mayor.  His Sept. 3 appointment with history in Charlotte is his moment to speak to a nation and show that he belongs on a national stage.

“He could be the first Latino President or Vice President and it would be reasonable to suggest that Julián would be well positioned to be the Democratic nominee for Texas Governor, ” Walter Clark Wilson, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, recently told the Washington Post. “Right now he is doing everything right to set up these kinds of situations for the future.”

Here are 10 Suggested Steps to On-Stage Success:

1. Consult the Democratic Party’s wise men and women who have been there. Speak to Cisneros and Clinton, among others. I was at the 1988 convention in Atlanta when then-Arkansas  Gov. Bill Clinton overstayed his welcome on stage while delivering the nominating speech for Michael Dukakis. He was panned by pundits and fellow Democrats and temporarily, at least, set back on his own road to the White House. At that same convention, the insurgent primary candidate, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, made the most of his prime spot on the convention stage, leaving it near the end of his speech to walk like Moses through the parting delegates, urging them on, “Keep home alive, keep home alive.” Thousands stood and clapped and wept.

2. Talk to the best available speech writers about presentation, length and cadence of the speech. A great speech leaves people with something they never forget. Call on family and trusted local advisors to help construct your narrative, but use the best available professionals to assist you in drafting the final version and practicing your delivery. Don’t just listen to the home team. Seek out those who know a great speech when they hear one.

3. You have a great media team here, but it won’t be enough in Charlotte. The National Media Beast is never sated. Enlist experienced pros to help manage, and to shield you and your family.

4. Tell your personal story. The Castro narrative is a moving and familiar one to other families who trace their immigration to the United States from neighboring Mexico. In the space of just a few generations, hard work and education lifted your family from immigrant status to civil rights activism to a young man now standing before the nation.

5. Tell the Latino story. Like Obama, you are the face of a new America. But Latinos, more than African-Americans, represent the fast-growing diversity of our national population. Your speech is the chance to call on fellow Latinos to register and vote and make their voices heard. How well you inspire these potential voters, Mr. Mayor, could decide the outcome and also determine how fast Texas returns to two-party status.

6. Tell the San Antonio story. We are a city with a big heart, the city that opened its arms to Katrina victims, the city that takes in military men and women broken by war and heals them. We are, more and more, a Latino city, one that looks today like many other cities will look tomorrow. We have big city problems, but we are a city on the move. Our economy is more now that just military and tourism. We have a growing biosciences and medical research sector, and we are force in cloud computing. We are blessed with a great natural water resource and the best performing municipal energy utility in the country, one that boasts a diversified portfolio that includes wind and solar. We are a city of job creation , of Brain Gain, a vibrant metropolis with a unique culture that is attracting more and more people who want to live and work here.

7. Speak up for public education and your early childhood learning Brainpower Initiative.  This nation was built in great part on universal public education, which remains the cornerstone for preparing young people for future prosperity. Education is not the same as job training. Yes, schools should help prepare the workforce of the future, but schools also teach critical thinking, they socialize individuals to thrive in a diverse world, and they build young people into engaged citizens. They teach us history and philosophy and where we have been over time so we can understand how we might approach the future. They teach us match and science so we can create and innovate. Our schools help create opportunity, and allow young minorities living in inner city barrios to dream of attending the best universities, acquire the skills to follow passions wherever they lead, propelling some to become big city mayors, governors, even presidents.

The Castro twins: Shouldn’t Julián welcome Joaquín to the stage after President Obama speaks and the celebration begins?

8. You and Joaquín were raised by a strong and remarkable woman, Rosie Castro, who made her own name as a civil rights activist. She deserves a solo standup in the spotlight. Joaquin is surely headed for a seat in Congress and a new chapter in his own political story. You might as well introduce the rest of the country to him now, and let everyone get a good look at your identical twin. Let’s hope circumstances allow him to join you on stage after Pres. Obama speaks.

9. You also have wife Erica and three-year-old daughter Carina Victoria to introduce to the nation. People everywhere will feel they come to know you better by meeting all the Castros.

10. Dress: Navy blue suit, pale blue shirt, red tie. Be serious, but be inspirational. Don’t be afraid to show you have a sense of humor. Let’s see the Castro smile.

We’ll be watching with pride, Mr. Mayor.

Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report, is now a freelance journalist.