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May. 5, 2022
Nation's Largest and Oldest Latino Civil Rights Organization Acknowledges Those Selfless Men and Women Whose Lives Exemplify Courage Through Action
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) observes Cinco de Mayo by acknowledging men and women in our communities doing extraordinary things, often against the odds, and not for themselves but others in greater need. This unselfish valor is the enduring lesson from the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1861, when poor, working men and women rose from their homes, fields, and families to stand together in defense of their city, Veracruz. They were facing a feared French army made up of 6,000 of the world's most well-equipped and elite soldiers. The French troops repeatedly assaulted the steep Cerro de Guadalupe only to be repelled by peasants who had nothing except a few old muskets, hand tools, and rocks. Yet, the French were defeated in a crushing blow by ordinary people filled with extraordinary determination and courage.
“Today, LULAC highlights several members who exemplify the spirit of Puebla,” says Sindy Benavides, LULAC National Chief Executive Officer. “My inspiration came while still in college when I met the great farmworker labor leader Dolores Huerta who said, ‘Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.’ Those words are engraved in my soul,” adds Benavides.
Amanda Nicole Corugedo is a member of LULAC Council #7233 and served as LULAC Florida's intern between 2016 and February 2022. She volunteered as a communications coordinator and assisted the state's membership in numerous matters important to the mission of LULAC. She was there faithfully helping with communications, sharing vital data, and assisting students in applying for scholarships while helping secure much-needed sponsorship support.
Ray Valdez, Deputy Director, LULAC District 8, member of Council #60 and Chairman of the LULAC Clubhouse Restoration Project, Houston, Texas. The historic LULAC landmark site is where the Little School of 400 was started. The English-learning program LULAC created served as the role-model for what is now Head Start. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the multi-faceted program for low-income families, and it has served more than 32-million children to date.
Marilena Ortega is a Council Vice-President in Greeley, Colorado, where she is an outstanding example of LULAC's service to her community. Truly great volunteers draw others to them by their example and their willingness to lead through their actions, often being the first to arrive and the last to leave. Marilena is an excellent team champion with a track record of successfully creating and coordinating numerous local and regional events and promotions.
Elizabeth Zepeda Gonzalez is Deputy State Director for California LULAC and has been in LULAC ten years. For the past six years, she has dedicated herself to serving her community working with a nonprofit organization. Elizabeth is addressing the needs of the most vulnerable including farm workers, low-income working families, and the immigrant and homeless sectors. Her focus is helping folks with DACA Renewals, citizenship, know your rights, and more.
Claudia Azua is Deputy District Director, District 21, and President of LULAC #22391 in Mineral Wells, Texas. She started a scholarship program for high school seniors in her community to help students have the opportunity to receive higher education. Last year her council awarded four scholarships, and they are on track to double the number this year. Claudia is also a bilingual educator for the past 22 years and works daily serving her community to make sure it is represented justly and equitably.
Leonard Gonzales is a member of LULAC Council #3274, Veterans of Southern California and Vice-Chair of the National Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. Gonzales is the architect of the LULAC National Campaign to Save Our Servicemembers. He is also working on reforms in the military justice system and assisting with congressional legislation to end the deportation of immigrant veterans and repatriation of our deported former military servicemembers.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.