As Cesar Chavez’s March 31 birthday approaches, the White House took some time on Tuesday to honor 11 individuals following Chavez’s footsteps, keeping his legacy alive.
The theme of the event was “A Legacy of Service: Organizing for Immigration Reform,” though the panel discussion touched on other issues affected by that issue, including the national debate on gay marriage, highlighted on Tuesday by the oral arguments at the Supreme Court regarding the legality of California’s Proposition 8. For example, Judy Rickard—lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist—is not only a champion of change when it comes to gay rights, but also a fierce supporter of immigration reform. She spoke about how her wife is from the United Kingdom and it has been an immigration struggle for them to be together.
The leaders showcased for working for their communities were: Rickard, Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR); Yvanna Cancela, political director at UNITE HERE’s Local 226, the Culinary Workers Union; Ian Danley, a community leader and community organizer recently elected to the governing board of the Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona; Jason Mathis, executive director of Salt Lake City’s Downtown Alliance and executive vice president of the Salt Lake Chamber; L. Mireya Reith, executive director of Arkansas United Community Coalition; Maria Rodriguez, co-founder of the Florida Immigrant Coalition; Rich Stolz, executive director of OneAmerica; Matthew Soerens, U.S. church training specialist for World Relief; Javier H. Valdes, from Make the Road; and Bonnie M. Youn, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community leader in Georgia.
The idea behind Champions of Change at the White House is to feature groups of Americans—whether they are individuals, businesses or organization—who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
Twitter on Cesar Chavez’s #WHChamps event
— Jeanette Acosta (@jmacosta) March 26, 2013
— Bonnie Youn (@BonnieYounYLG) March 26, 2013
Maria Rodriguez from FLIC shouts out bold courageous action of “Undocumented Unafraid (and Undocuqueer)” #WHchamps
— B. Loewe (@BstandsforB) March 26, 2013
— Elianne Ramos (@ergeekgoddess) March 26, 2013