Last week’s Latino Education Advocacy for Days (LEAD) Summit at Cal State San Bernardino primarily focused on the achievements of women in education.
“Latinas define the future,” said CSUSB Professor Dr. Enrique Murillo, who is the founder of LEAD, during the Cesar Chavez breakfast co-hosted by the Chicano Latino Caucus of the Inland Empire on March 31.
However, educators and community leaders agree that there is still much to build on. Latina’s have been faring more poorly than their Latino male counterparts, earning less than 60 cents on the dollar, according to Murillo.
Nonetheless, Latina women have made strides and continue to improve on educational attainment due to the state’s investment in programs that help low income families.
“We are all enjoined to improve lives,” said LEAD Madrina de Honor Gloria Macias Harrison, a lifetime educator and publisher of this newspaper. “And given the situation in our society today, we have to work doubly hard to not lose ground.”
The daylong summit focused on the challenges, issues and accomplishments Latina women in the educational and professional world. About 1,700 people attended the summit at the Santos Manuel Student Union. Over 400,000 people worldwide viewed the ninth edition of the LEAD Summit through Facebook, and YouTube.
Murillo said Latina women begin school significantly later than their peers and are less likely to obtain and complete a college degree. Current projects, including the CSU-HEP program, are helping turn that around. Over 200 women migrant workers have received high school diplomas or GED’s since 2015, explained Murillo.
During one panel, a summit participant asked what responsibilities men have in helping women succeed. San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales had a simple answer.
“Be the man,” said Gonzales, who was the 2013 LEAD Summit Madrina de Honor. “We honor and we recognize in our culture, and other cultures, that we honor and respect the men in our lives. If we are to enable a balance to take place in today’s world, the male must be strong enough, must be man enough, to understand that his place is sacred. It is important that as the head of the family that the man must be kind, must be understanding, and must be faithful to good, positive character traits.”
Jesse Valenzuela honored with lifetime achievement award; Kimberly Ellis first African American woman to speak during annual breakfast
Longtime community activist Jesse Valenzuela was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Chicano Latino Caucus of the Inland Empire during their Cesar Chavez breakfast on March 31.
As a student at UC Riverside during the 1970s, Valenzuela helped found the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) chapter at the university and was a member of the United Farm Workers, assisting Chavez in his organizing efforts.
Valenzuela also served as associate dean of admissions at the University of Redlands and worked with former lawmaker Joe Baca Sr. for nearly three decades.
Also honored was Kimberly Ellis, the Executive Director of nonprofit Emerge California, and a prominent national activist. She is the first African-American woman to speak during a Chicano Latino Caucus event.
Ellis said it was an “honor” to join Chicanos and Latinos in celebration of community activism and stressed the importance of working together to uplift all marginalized groups.
“The system of oppression has worked so hard to sew the seeds of division,” said Ellis. “We are so much stronger together. In me you have not just a friend, but an accomplice. “