For the second year in a row LULAC 4871 â€“ The Dallas Rainbow Council walked away with awards from District III Convention held Saturday, April 25 in Dallas.
District III includes 35 counties in North and East Texas.
Lesbian community organizer Suzanne Hickman won "Woman of the Year" for her work with Dallas Independent School District’s elementary schools. Hickman helped establish LULAC 4871 and is a former vice president of the group.
Hickman, executive director of the People Empowerment Project, teaches youth about government and civic duty. She targets schools in South Dallas with large percentages of minority students, and helps run their student council elections by teaching students on how to run a campaign and speak in public. She also helps tutor children.
"Twenty years from now the Hispanic community will have a generation of politically-active people who were taught about the importance of voting by a kind soul from the LGBT community," said LULAC 4871 President Jesse Garcia, who cofounded LULAC 4871 with Hickman in 2006. "She devotes so much time to educate our youth and empower them that LULAC felt it was important to recognize Suzanne."
Dallas County Constable Jaime Cortes was named "Man of the Year," for his work in the community and recent push for a Cesar Chavez street in Dallas. Cortes is one of a dozen straight allies who have recently joined the LULAC council established by Dallas’ LGBT community.
Cortes, whose precinct covers Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff, was also recognized for his work with DISD children and holding community forums on safety issues such as preventing domestic violence. He also provided guidance and assistance during the lobbying for a Cesar Chavez street in downtown Dallas.
Garcia said Cortes "has turned out to be a great ally and friend to the LGBT community" as well as "a very popular elected official in the Hispanic community."
"I’m honored that he calls LULAC 4871 home and that we can always count on him to do good things for the community," Garcia said of the constable.
Garcia himself was honored twice during the district convention. He was the the "Se Presta" Volunteerism Award and, by a unanimous vote, was elected District III deputy director.
The vote made Garcia the second openly gay person to lead LULAC District III. The first was Ray De Los Santos, who served as district director this past year.
Garcia thanked De Los Santos for "paving the way for LULAC 4871 to be accepted into the LULAC family and for showing the exception leadership and skills that LGBT people can bring to the table if we are included."
LULAC 4871 members introduced a pro-equality resolution that passed on a unanimous vote. The resolution calls on Congress to pass and President Barack Obama to sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Garcia said LULAC District III would submit the resolution to the LULAC State Convention in June. He noted that LULAC 4871 successfully submitted and passed resolutions to repeal "Don’t ask, don’t tell" at the district, state and national levels last year.
LULAC 4871 meets every fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. For its meeting location, visit www.lulac4871.org. The group will celebrate "Cinco De Mayo" with a fiesta held with Valiente Sunday, May 3, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the home of LULAC 4871 member and Valiente President Fernie Sanchez.For location andmore information about the event, please visit www.valiente.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2009.