Friday, February 19, 2010

Corazón de Justicia Awards

Tonight, the Coalición de Derechos Humanos hosted their 7th Annual Corazón de Justicia Awards Dinner in Tucson. It was a showcase of grassroots activism in southern Arizona across a number of communities with a clear message: Education is the answer - real political education that gives a voice to those who often remain voiceless in policy debates at all levels.

The recipients and categories for the 2010 honorees are:

Francis Miller, for her work with the NAACP

Community Empowerment
Joe Bernick, who invited everyone to next week's Peace Fair

Dan Millis, for his work with the Sierra Club and No More Deaths

Leah Sandwell-Weiss, for her work with the Pima County Interfaith Council

Human Rights
Dr. Bruce Perkins, for his assistance in upholding humanity within the
Pima County Medical Examiner's Office

Immigrant Rights
Salvador Reza, for his leadership in Phoenix with TONATIERRA

Jay McKenzie, for his leadership with the Tucson Indian Center's
Employment Training arena

Mary Lou Gonzales, for her organizing work with Tucson Jobs With Justice

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
Cynthia Garcia, for her leadership as Board President of Wingspan,
Tucson's LGBT Community Center

Women's Issues
Ashira Pace +, for her decades-long work with many battered women shelters
across southern Arizona

Mixelle Rascon, for her commitment and advocacy of TUSD's Raza Studies Department

The keynote speaker for tonight's program was Roberto Lovato, representing his life work that has recently included Presente.Org's Basta Dobbs campaign, Trail of Dreams 2010 and his soon-to-be-revamped blog Of América. Roberto spoke of the importance of continuing to Dream, especially as the climate toward immigrant and Latino communities gets worse.

During the BastaDobbs campaign, Lou Dobbs referred to him as "a flea" on his radio program and Roberto's comment tonight was, "We got a bunch of fleas, and pushed an elephant into the abyss." He remarked that it will become expensive to Dream in the future, that the monied interests flowing from corporations and D.C. conventional wisdom will be funneled toward a so-called "Rational Center" that allows the immigration debate to become more militarized and destructive to our communities. He continued that it is why there's importance in supporting advocates like Derechos Humanos and other groups represented in the room.

"After the 2006 marches, the moneyed interests polled-away the humanity and morality of the immigrant. We have to continue to dream and demand that it be central."

Using powerpoint images of his parents and telling stories of their struggles in El Salvador prior to immigrating to the United States, Roberto spoke passionately against the corporate influencers who are pouring endless amounts of money into reinforcing the idea of sovereignty and citizenship while they reap the fiscal benefits of exploiting various parts of the world. It was a powerful message and tied in perfectly with the work that is being done by the honorees and the grassroot groups they represent.

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