On Receiving the Ella Baker/Septima Clark Human Rights Award
Cualli Yohualli Nehua no toca Roberto Dr Cintli Rodriguez
I first want to acknowledge the Ohlone peoples – the peoples Indigenous to these lands. And I want to pass on a teaching I received: everyone of us, we are all Indigenous… to somewhere. That should create the consciousness within us to help us understand that we are all stewards of this earth, responsible for the health of Pachamama.
Secondly, I would like to acknowledge the lives of Ella Baker and Septima Clark, two giants of the civil rights movement who are largely unknown to mainstream society, which is the case of most tireless human rights workers… I am in awe of their work and their inspiring legacy. And thanks to those who nominated me, and the AERA committee who chose me, to receive this national human rights award.
In their spirit, I would like to introduce you to two other names. Prior to coming here, I was at Sal Castro’s funeral in Los Angeles. He led a life similar to those of Baker and Clark. He embodied the meaning of "teacher," leading a campaign in the 1960s and 1970s against educational apartheid against Mexican students in L.A. schools.
By all rights, a young woman, Leilani Clark, should actually be receiving this award today. She is Diné and Khapo Owingeh (Santa Clara Pueblo) and African American – a woman equal to Baker, Clark… and Castro. I should note that I am donating my monetary award – the $500 – to a student group called UNIDOS: United Non-Discriminatory Individuals Demanding Our Studies – a Tucson group that she co-founded and co-led in defense of Ethnic Studies in Arizona.
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