U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat is the first Dominican member of the United States Congress. As part of an exploration of rising political power among Latino Americans, National Geographic interviewed Espaillat about his life and experience.
I thought of my grandparents and how sad I was that they weren't there. They were both factory workers and I think they helped me build the mental toughness to make this journey possible. But it was a great experience obviously to see the Capital lit up at night, almost surreal.
My grandmother was a seamstress, who worked in the garment district and my grandfather worked in the (Ray-Ban sunglasses) factory. My father worked in a gas station, my mother (stayed) at home. Eventually my father owned the gas station, so he became a small business owner, and that's who we were. All of us lived together in the same four-bedroom apartment at the edge of Washington Heights, 153rd St. and Broadway.