Posted on 04-05-2012
LCLAA bestows honors
The 1950’s brought many Latino activists to the forefront of the civil rights movement. These trade unionists struggled to open the doors of opportunity for Latinos. They fundamentally believed that through the labor movement and the electoral process, Latinos would be able to strive for social dignity, economic equality, access to the political process and a higher quality of life for every Latino working family.
These ideals became part of the “American Dream.” With this dream in mind, Latino trade unionists from throughout the U.S. and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico convened and made a commitment to promote the social, economic and political progress of the Latino community. In 1972 they founded the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).
Currently, there are 23 states with LCLAA chapters, including Colorado. For the past five years, the Denver chapter of LCLAA has awarded individuals throughout the metro area for their activism in the community at their Annual César Chávez Dinner and Dance event.
Hundreds of supporters gathered at the VFW on west Colfax to celebrate this year’s honoree’s. The Fred Ross Award – honors non-Latino individuals who advance the rights and causes of the Latino community – was presented to Stephanie O’Malley, Deputy Chief of Staff for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
O’Malley humbly accepted the award sharing her passion for
Equality, and discussed her role as the former Denver Clerk and Recorder and her work with ACCESO, Denver’s Spanish language voting advisory committee. Her father, former Mayor Wellington Webb and her mother, former first lady Wilma Webb attended the awards ceremony congratulating O’Malley.
Denver activist Paul Sandoval, was honored with the People’s Award for his longtime contributions to the labor movement through his numerous endeavors as an elected official and community member. Sandoval’s wife, former State Senator Paula Sandoval, accepted the award on his behalf, as he was unable to attend due to his battle with pancreatic cancer.
Receiving the organization’s César Chávez Award, Ramón Del Castillo was honored for his humanitarian efforts and continued dedication and passion for the Latino community. Dr. Del Castillo is a co-founder of the César Chávez Peace and Justice Committee, and serves on various boards and agencies; and is the recipient of numerous awards. Currently, Del Castillo serves as an Associate Professor and Chair of the Chicana/o Studies Department at Metropolitan State College of Denver.
The professor shared his roots in union activism within his family. He credited union efforts in assisting his mother in dealing with her battle with breast cancer and her access to healthcare due to her participation as a union member.
Although Del Castillo’s mother died of breast cancer over thirty years ago, he credited union efforts in assisting his mother in dealing with her health battle and access to healthcare, due to her participation as a union member.
This year’s keynote address was delivered by Dusti Gurule, Regional Representative for US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. Gurule offered great insight regarding the extraordinary work by Secretary Solis, working on all levels of employment, from the fields to the country’s corporations.
For info on LCLAA, Denver Chapter: http://denver.co.lclaa.org/.
Toni Frésquez contributed to this article.