Anthony D. Romero – Executive Director, ACLU
Anthony D. Romero is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation’s premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. He took the helm of the organization just four days before the September 11th attacks. Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national Keep America Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis, achieving court victories on the Patriot Act, uncovering thousands of pages of documents detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, and filing the first successful legal challenge to the Bush administration’s illegal NSA spying program.
Romero also led the ACLU in its landmark lawsuit challenging Arizona’s anti-immigrant law that invites law enforcement to engage in racial profiling; and in its ongoing campaign to end mass incarceration, which has achieved significant victories, including the 2010 passage of the federal Fair Sentencing Act and the implementation of less punitive, evidence-based criminal justice reforms in several states.
Romero is the ACLU’s sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. In 2005, he was named one of Time magazine‘s 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and has received dozens of public service awards as well as an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law.
In 2007, Romero and co-author and NPR correspondent Dina Temple-Raston published In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror, a book that takes a critical look at civil liberties in this country at a time when constitutional freedoms are in peril. Born in New York City to parents who hailed from Puerto Rico, Romero was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He is a graduate of Stanford University Law School and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. He is a member of the New York Bar Association and has sat on numerous nonprofit boards.
Martín Espada – Poet & Lawyer
Called “the Latino poet of his generation,” and “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published seventeen books in all as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. The Republic of Poetry, a collection of poems published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A collection of essays,The Lover of a Subversive is Also a Subversive, was released by the University of Michigan in 2010. An earlier book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Other books of poetry include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (Norton, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (Norton, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990). Espada has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the American Book Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the Charity Randall Citation, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Harper’s, The Nation, and The Best American Poetry. His work has been translated into ten languages and collections of his poetry have been published in Spain, Puerto Rico and Chile. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Geraldo Rivera – Journalist
Geraldo Rivera is currently host of “Geraldo at Large” on Fox News Channel (FNC), which is also nationally syndicated by Twentieth Century Television. The well-known author, attorney and talk show host recently celebrated 40 years in journalism. Rivera joined FNC as a war correspondent in November 2001. In this capacity, he was immediately stationed in Afghanistan to cover Operation Enduring Freedom, and later in Bethlehem to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rivera began his career as a reporter for WABC-TV in New York where he presented a series exposing the deplorable conditions at the Willowbrook State School for the mentally ill. The award-winning reports led to a government investigation and the institution was eventually shut down. Before becoming a member of the original cast of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Rivera presented the first television broadcast of the infamous Abraham Zapruder film of the assassination of President John Kennedy. He then began an eight-year association with ABC’s “20/20? as an investigative reporter. In 1987, Rivera began producing and hosting “The Geraldo Rivera Show,” which aired for 11 years.
The winner of the 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his NBC News documentary on “Women In Prison,” and the Scripps Howard Foundation national journalism award for “Back to Bedlam,” Rivera has received more than 170 awards for journalism, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, three national and seven local Emmys, two Columbia-Dupont and two additional Scripps Howard Journalism Awards. Rivera is a graduate of the University of Arizona and Brooklyn Law School, and is the author of seven books.
Rigoberta Menchú Tum – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 1992
Rigoberta Menchú Tum is an indigenous Guatemalan of the K’iche-Maya ethnic group who has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples during and after the country’s civil war. Her courageous leadership at the forefront of the social struggle for human rights was recognized when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, the youngest person ever to be bestowed this honor.
From a very young age, she was involved in the effort to defend and reclaim the rights of indigenous peoples who were politically persecuted and exiled. In 1979 she became a founding member of the Committee of United Peasants (CUC) and the United Representation of Opposing Guatemalans (RUOG).
During the country’s armed internal conflict, Menchú lost her father in the burning of the Spanish Embassy, followed by her mother, Juana Tum, who became one of the thousands of Guatemalan “disappeared.”
In 1992, she founded the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation, which works to defend the rights of indigenous people and provides support to those seeking justice for the victims of genocide in Guatemala. In its Statement of Principles, the foundation puts forth the following Code of Ethics for Peace:
There is no peace without justice,
There is no justice without equality,
There is no equality without development,
There is no development without democracy,
There is no democracy without respect for the identity and dignity of all cultures and people.
Robert White – Former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador
Ambassador Robert White recently retired as President of the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C. During his twenty-five year Foreign Service career, White specialized in Latin American affairs with particular emphasis on Central America. He has been Director of the Peace Corps in Latin America, deputy permanent representative to the Organization of American States, and U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay and El Salvador. After retiring from the Foreign Service in 1981, White served as a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 1989, he joined the Center for International Policy as the President and has presided at conferences, led delegations to several Latin American and Caribbean countries and published numerous studies regarding U.S. policy towards the region.
White was the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador in 1980-81 during the first years of the Salvadoran Civil War. He was harshly critical of the Salvadoran government and accused the military and paramilitaries of committing widespread atrocities against civilians, many of which were later factually confirmed. He has received numerous awards, including the 2012 Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award presented by the Center for Justice and Accountability.
Mariana Cabrera and Mariana Zamboni – Guatemalan Immigrants
In many ways, Mariana Cabrera and her daughter, Mariana Zamboni, represent the best of the countless daily contributions Latino immigrants make to the U.S. After a 20-year effort to legalize their status in the U.S., Ms. Cabrera serves senior citizens as a home health care worker, and Ms. Zamboni is an elementary school teacher with a graduate degree from Harvard University.
Enrique Morones – Founder, Border Angels
Enrique Morones is the President and Founder of Border Angels, an all-volunteer group he established in 1986 which places food, water and other provisions in the desert near border areas to help save migrant lives. He has been featured on NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, BBC, NPR, HBO, The Today Show, Univision’s Don Francisco Presenta, Rocío en Telemundo and countless other international media around the world. Morones frequently lectures and has more than held his own promoting the truth about the migrant community on shows with Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Minutemen founders and many others.
As a founder of “Gente Unida”, a human rights border coalition of 65 groups, he led the national effort against the Minutemen. He is recognized as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the USA by Hispanic Business Magazine, and his numerous awards include being a Frontline Human Rights international honoree for his lifelong dedication to social justice. Morones recently completed a 75-mile trek through Mexico and the U.S. in solidarity with migrants.
Lorenzo Meyer, Ph.D. - Historian & Political Analyst
Dr. Lorenzo Meyer is a professor at El Colegio de México A.C. and is widely recognized as the foremost historian and political analyst in Mexico. He is also an editorialist at the prestigious national newspaper Reforma, and is the host of “Primer Plano,” one of Mexico’s most popular television programs focusing on political discussion and analysis.
Since the late 1970?s, Dr. Meyer has published numerous books on Mexican history, politics, and culture. He has a Ph.D. in International Relations from El Colegio de México and did his post doctorate studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is a member of the National System of Investigators and has written books includingThe Cactus and the Olive Tree: History of Mexico and Spain Relations in the XX Century. Dr. Meyer has been a visiting professor in universities, including, the University of Columbia, University of Chicago, and Stanford University.
Rev. Jesse Jackson – Founder & President, Rainbow PUSH Coalition
The Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures. Over the past forty years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice. On August 9, 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Reverend Jackson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Reverend Jackson has been called the “Conscience of the Nation” and “the Great Unifier,” challenging America to be inclusive and to establish just and humane priorities for the benefit of all. He is known for bringing people together on common ground across lines of race, culture, class, gender and belief.
Born on October 8, 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina, Jesse Jackson graduated from the public schools in Greenville and then enrolled in the University of Illinois on a football scholarship. He later transferred to North Carolina A&T State University and graduated in 1964. He began his theological studies at Chicago Theological Seminary but deferred his studies when he began working full-time in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was ordained on June 30, 1968 by Rev. Clay Evans and received his earned Master of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2000.
In 1984, Reverend Jackson founded the National Rainbow Coalition, a social justice organization based in Washington, D.C. devoted to political empowerment, education and changing public policy. In September of 1996, the Rainbow Coalition and Operation PUSH merged to form the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to continue the work of both organizations and to maximize resources.
Reverend Jackson’s two presidential campaigns broke new ground in U.S. politics. His 1984 campaign registered over one million new voters, won 3.5 million votes, and helped the Democratic Party regain control of the Senate in 1986. His 1988 campaign registered over two million new voters, won seven million votes, and helped boost hundreds of state and local elected officials into office. Additionally, he won historic victories, coming in first or second in 46 out of 54 primary contests. His clear progressive agenda and his ability to build an unprecedented coalition inspired millions to join the political process.
Gonzalo Garza, Ph.D. - WWII and Korean War Veteran
Dr. Gonzalo Garza was born January 10, 1927 in New Braunfels, Texas, the sixth of nine children of a migrant family from Mexico. He dropped out of school at the age of 17 to join the Marines in 1944. He served in World War II in the Pacific Theater as an infantryman and as an interpreter before leaving in 1946. He later reenlisted in 1950 and saw action during the Korean War, receiving the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for Valor.
After returning from the Pacific, Dr. Garza finished high school. He eventually got his Bachelor’s degree in History, Government and Spanish from St. Mary’s University after the Korean War interrupted his senior year. He went on to receive a Master’s degree in Education from Our Lady of the Lake University and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas.
From there, Dr. Garza began his career as one of the most distinguished educators in Texas history. He has served as a teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Associate Superintendent and Superintendent in numerous school districts, including Corpus Christi, Houston and Austin. He retired in 1992 after ten years as the Superintendent of the Austin Independent School District. For his contributions to education, the Gonzalo Garza Independence High School in Austin has been named in his honor.
Fabiola Santiago – Journalist, The Miami Herald
Fabiola Santiago is an award-winning columnist at The Miami Herald, where she has worked since 1980. She also is the author of essays, poetry and short fiction. She was the founding city editor of the Spanish-languageEl Nuevo Herald, where she shared a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Hurricane Andrew. At The Herald, she shared in a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Elián González story, and her feature writing has won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Santiago is the author of Reclaiming Paris, the story of a Miami woman who searches for her lost island and her identity through her relationships with men. The debut novel was published by Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books in September, 2008. Her newspaper stories and essays on Cuban culture, arts, and identity have been published in many U.S. newspapers and magazines, and in Latin America, Canada and France. Her first fictional children’s story,Citizen Carmen, about a Cuban girl’s struggles to learn English, was published in the prestigious Highlights for Children, and has been reprinted several times in scholastic texts.
Carlos Alberto Montaner – Author & Journalist
Carlos Alberto Montaner is a writer, journalist, teacher, and lecturer who has published twenty-five books and numerous articles in newspapers in Spain, U.S. and Latin America. Poder magazine has called him one of the most influential columnists in Spanish. The best-selling Manual del Perfecto Idiota Latinoamericano, in which he collaborated with Álvaro Vargas Llosa and Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, was published in 1996 by Madison Books. Its highly popular sequel, El Regreso del Idiota, was published in 2007. Montaner also authored No Perdamos También el Siglo XXI (1997), and in 1999, Viaje al Corazón de Cuba.
Montaner began his career in journalism in 1968, working with Joaquín Maurín, a Spanish exile who had founded the American Literary Agency in New York at the end of the 1940s with the objective of disseminating democratic ideas in the United States and Latin America. Montaner began writing a weekly column which was soon appearing in almost every Latin American country, often in the most widely-read newspapers. He also came to be much in demand as a lecturer throughout the hemisphere, speaking about the defense of liberty, economic development, and the important role of culture in the evolution of societies. In 2004 he was invited by The Miami Herald to be part of its Editorial Board.
Junot Díaz – Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author
Junot Díaz was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and is the award-winning author of Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, Best American Short Stories (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000), and in The O’Henry Prize Stories 2009.
He has received a Eugene McDermott Award, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a Lila Acheson Wallace Readers Digest Award, the 2002 Pen/Malamud Award, the 2003 US-Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the fiction editor at the Boston Review and Nancy Allen professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Díaz has been active in a number of community organizations in New York City, from Pro-Libertad to the Dominican Workers Party, and the Unión de Jóvenes Dominicanos. On May 22, 2010, it was announced that Díaz had been selected to sit on the 20-member Pulitzer Prize board of jurors. Díaz described his appointment, and the fact that he is the first Latino to be appointed to the panel, as an “extraordinary honor.”
Luis Enrique – Grammy Award-Winning Singer & Composer
Luis Enrique Mejía López, is an award-winning Nicaraguan singer and composer. He started his career in the late 1980s and achieved success in the 1990s, earning the title “El Principe de la Salsa” (The Prince of Salsa). He was one of the leading pioneers that led to the Salsa Romántica movement in the 1980s. In 2009, his album, Ciclos, was nominated for numerous Latin Grammy Awards, his biggest breakthrough in over a decade. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.
Enrique immigrated to the United States in 1978, taking up residence in L.A. When Enrique auditioned for a local salsa group, he made such a strong impression on the band’s producers, Alex Cobos and Frank Miret, that they took the young talent directly into the studio to cut a demo. That recording led to a deal with Sony in 1987 for the release of Enrique’s debut CD, Amor de Media Noche. Enrique’s sizable discography has earned him five Grammy nominations and five Lo Nuestro Awards, in addition to numerous gold and platinum records.
Melvin A. Goodman – Former CIA Division Chief
Melvin A. Goodman is Director of the Common Defense Campaign: National Security Project at the Center for International Policy, as well as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. He was division chief and senior analyst at the Office of Soviet Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 to 1986, and a senior analyst at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, State Department from 1974 to 1976. Goodman was also an intelligence adviser to the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks in Vienna and Washington. He is co-author of The Wars of Edvard Shevardnadze (2nd edition, 2001),The Phantom Defense, America’s Pursuit of the Star Wars Illusion (2001);Bush League Diplomacy; How the Neoconservatives are Putting the World at Risk (2004); Failure of Intelligence: the Decline and Fall of the CIA (2008).
Father Roy Bourgeois – Founder, School of the Americas Watch
Father Roy Bourgeois is the founder of School of the Americas Watch, an organization that seeks to close the School of the Americas, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, through nonviolent protest.
In 1980, Fr. Roy became involved in issues surrounding U.S. policy in El Salvador after four churchwomen — two of them his friends — were raped and killed by Salvadoran soldiers. Roy became an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. Since then, he has spent over four years in federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the training of Latin American soldiers at Ft. Benning, Georgia. He received the prestigious Gandhi Peace Award in 1994, the Pax Christi U.S.A. Pope Paul VI Teacher of Peace Award in 1997, and the Thomas Merton Award in 2005. Fr. Roy travels extensively, giving talks at universities, churches, and other groups around the country.
Sister Pat Murray – Maryknoll Missionary
Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Sister Pat Murray joined Maryknoll in 1959. She spent her first years as secretary to the Father General of the Maryknoll Society and received a B.S. in community service from Rogers College before her assignment to El Salvador in 1969. Sister Pat worked with communities, youth and women’s groups in San Salvador, the country’s capital.
After earning an M.S. in counseling from the University of Georgia, Sister Pat ministered in a small town in Nicaragua during Somoza’s dictatorship in 1975. Urged by the town’s catechists, Sister Pat and other Maryknoll missioners helped teenage girls escape from prostitution. Years later, Sister Pat would go to Albany, N.Y., to call for increased penalties for human traffickers.
In León, she worked in a housing project until she and six other Maryknoll Sisters found themselves caught in the crossfire of the final offensive during the civil war in 1979. They took shelter inside a half-finished school and organized this refugee shelter for 400 people for seven long weeks. After the war, Sister Pat worked on a pastoral and mental health team in León and also supervised the work-study program at a medical college. She now works as the retirement and renewal coordinator for the Maryknoll Sisters.
Sister Teresa Alexander – Maryknoll Missionary
Sister Teresa (Terry) Alexander was born in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Having worked for a year in an office after graduating from high school, she entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1945. She earned her degree in education from Maryknoll Teachers College in New York.
In 1980, Sister Teresa was assigned to La Libertad and Santa Ana in El Salvador. It was here where she encountered a great deal of violence. Sister Terry remembers clearly the day she saw the four bodies of her fellow Maryknoll Sisters, half-buried beside an isolated dirt road in central El Salvador. In 1981, Sister Teresa left El Salvador to begin work with basic ecclesial communities in Guatemala. Two years later, she moved to Mexico, where she served as pastor of María Madre de Diós Parish in the town of Lázaro Cárdenas. Sister Teresa returned in 1988 to the Congregation’s New York headquarters, where she has served in the Treasury and Admissions offices.
María Guardado – Salvadoran Immigrant and Torture Survivor
Fleeing the civil war in her native El Salvador, María Guardado was granted political asylum by the United States in 1983. She had been kidnapped and tortured by Salvadoran death squads due to political activity. María transformed her personal horror and became a poet and a political activist in Los Angeles. In 2010, she was the subject of the award-winning film, “Testimony: The María Guardado Story,” which documents her return to her hometown of San Miguel to revisit and reflect on her past. The film was written, directed and produced by Randy Vasquez.
María Hinojosa – Journalist
María Hinojosa is a renowned broadcast journalist and one of the nation’s most distinguished Latino voices. As the anchor and managing editor of her weekly National Public Radio (NPR) show Latino USA, and anchor of the Emmy Award-winning talk show María Hinojosa: One-on-One, she has been at the forefront in documenting the stories of Latinos and unsung heroes in America. In 2010, Ms. Hinojosa launched the Futuro Media Group with the mission of producing multi-platform, community-based journalism that respects and celebrates the cultural richness of the American experience.
Hinojosa is a contributing correspondent for PBS’ Need to Know, and was previously a senior correspondent for the weekly news magazine NOW on PBS. Topics of her stories have ranged from immigrant work camps in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to teenage girls who are victims of sexual harassment on the job. Prior to joining NOW in 2005, Hinojosa spent eight years as the Urban Affairs Correspondent for CNN. During her career, Hinojosa has also served as a news correspondent for National Public Radio in New York, and as a radio producer for CBS News.
She was named one of the 100 Most Influential Latinos in the United States by Hispanic Business magazine three times. In addition to two Emmy awards, she has received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Reporting on the Disadvantaged and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club for best documentary. She has received the Rubén Salazar Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of la Raza and was inducted into the “She Made It” Hall of Fame at the Paley Center/Museum of Television and Radio. The Paley distinction honors women trail blazers in the media. Hinojosa is the author of two books, including Raising Raúl: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son.