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Quarta-feira - 22 Maio 2024

Exclusive: Henry Stern, a Portuguese descendant who is making his path in North American politics


Above is Senator Stern’s Portugese Grandfather Ed Mattos and family while working for the Kennedy Administration as an Arts Ambassador.

We meet another Portuguese descendant in “Terras do Tio Sam”, Henry Stern, current politician, Democrat Senator from California, who shows himself to be a man of causes and committed to maintaining family ties, environmental concerns, and performance in the community for those who love to work with: More equitable and fair society and greater respect for the environment, are some of the values he defends. He is proud of his Portuguese and Jewish roots, making the Senator a man with interesting genetics. “I am a 6th generation Portuguese-American. My grandfather’s great-grandfather, Edward Mattos (who was a musician, teacher and diplomat), was Frank Pimentel. Frank was born in Horta, Azores, in 1833, and immigrated to California, where he became a Night Watchman for Hayward, California, and died in 1917.” That’s the starting point for our conversation with this man who loves the sea and food.

Regarding his roots, he feels a strong connection to his Portuguese heritage, but he also considers himself completely American and Jewish. “I do feel a strong connection to my Portuguese heritage, but I also consider myself thoroughly American and Jewish. I am Portuguese and Jewish roots are integral parts of who I am and have influenced my values and perspective on life. The Portuguese part of me comes through my love of food and the ocean, but also, in a less present form, in my search for the lost roots of the Jewish communities that fled Portugal through places like Recife into the ports of Tuoro, Italy, where the nation’s first synagogue bears my family’s name: Mattos.” Said Henry Stern.

His ancestors hailed from the Azores region of Portugal, particularly Horta, in Azores Island. Before becoming a Senator in California, he graduated from Harvard University, where he majored in American history, and attended law school at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in Energy and Environmental Law. He also taught civics for high schoolers in Washington DC and lectured at UCLA and Berkeley Law.

He has always been interested in working for the community, which is why he decided to pursue a career in politics, because he is passionate about the environment, serving the community and making a positive impact on society.

California Portuguese-American Coalition Leads a Delegation of California Legislators to the Azores

It’s not just a dream but a commitment to public service that runs all the way back to Hayward in the early 1900s, where “my brave great-great-grandfather kept the night watch.”

What keeps him continuing his political career is his family, who gives him a lot of support. “My family fuels me. They feed me with love, culture, and food”. He abide by the adage that if you see your path, it is not your path, for you make your path with every step you take. He never thought would be the first millennial elected to the California Senate or find “myself” making decisions that impact millions. He doesn’t know where this path will take him, but he knows he will always commit “myself to helping people and solving complex problems facing our society as a whole, like extremism and the climate crisis.

Regarding his ancesterors hewould love to know more “about my ancestors, especially during the period when Jewish refugees left Portugal and fled to Recife,” where he knows his family’s name was on a trip manifest and must have spent time, “as our gene research shows.”
What happened during that period is still a mystery to him, and he want to know more about these hidden Jewish roots of Portugal. That said, “I honeymooned with my lovely wife in Portugal, where as a surfer, I witnessed the power of Nazare, the tastes of Lisboa, like the mushroom restaurant that blew my mind, and the deep caverns of the Azores that showed me the land itself is as unique as the nation itself.” He mentioned.

Message to all Portuguese emigrants around the world

He reflected a while, and then said, “talk to your elders. Pull the thread on where you come from.” The internet makes us feel that we don’t need to know history because it’s always at our fingertips, but it’s not true. “Details matter. Find out where you truly come from, and you will know who you are.”

He is a member of the Democratic Party. “I align with the party’s values of equality, social justice, and opportunity for all. Additionally, I am deeply concerned about the urgent threat of climate change and the rising threat of extremism, including antisemitism.” Finish the Senator Henry Stern.

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