Early Tuesday morning, hundreds of Latinos gathered at Tribeca Rooftop in Manhattan to honor four groundbreaking Latinas, including renowned activist Dolores Huerta, for their outstanding activism and professional accomplishments that promote leadership. The annual event was hosted by the organization Latino Justice PRLDEF, which works on issues that affect Latinos, like immigrant rights, criminal justice reform, and education, among others.
The honorees were Ileana Musa, a top executive at Morgan Stanley —a sponsor of the event— who has twice been named by Fortune as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Latinas in corporate America; Yvonne García, chief of staff to State Street Corporation’s CEO, and Chairwoman of the Greater Boston Chamber’s Women’s Network; Ruby Corado, founder of Casa Ruby, a an organization based in Washington D.C. that provides aid and social services to the LGBTQ community; and Dolores Huerta, acclaimed labor rights activist and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
Huerta was the recipient of the 2019 Pioneer Award and received multiple standing ovations as she delivered her speech. She has spent over 50 years advocating for immigrant workers rights, and used her speech not to thank people or talk about herself, but to remind people of the importance of unions and to bring awareness to the school to prison pipeline. She also called for people to reach out to their local representatives and help farm workers.
“New York state is 40 years behind California. Please call your state legislator, because I know that in 2019, New York can pass laws that protect farm workers,” she urged.
Huerta hopes that legislation can grant farm workers unemployment insurance, days off, and other benefits.
At one point, she united the whole room by getting everyone to chant “Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power. What kind of power? Latino power!”
— Fernando A Bohorquez (@F_A_Bohorquez) June 19, 2019
Latino Rebels also spoke to Ruby Corado, who is the first transgender woman to receive the honor.
Corado moved to the United States from El Salvador when she was a teenager, and quickly realized that people treated her differently, so after many years of advocating for LGBTQ communities —especially those of color— and for immigrant rights in D.C., she created Casa Ruby in 2010.
Corado says she’s created a space that helps not only members of the LGBTQ community, but homeless individuals, sex workers, immigrants, and even those struggling with alcoholism.
“My number one job is to restore people’s dignity. Although legislation has changed and allows people to change their name or have their real gender in their ID’s, a lot are still hungry, and still homeless, and everyone deserves access to these things,” she told Latino Rebels.
Corado was honored to receive the award during Pride Month because she aligns herself with what she says is the true history of pride: liberation, not commercialization.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the event, which was established back in 2010 to honor Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
“For almost a decade, this event has honored amazing Latinas who are doing exceptional work in their fields and promoting Latina leadership,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel for Latino Justice, to Latino Rebels.
Cartagena assured that although the organization is national, its purpose is to look out for “our gente in our pueblos and our barrios,” and that’s what these women have done and will continue to do.
Natalia Rodríguez Medina is the 2019 summer correspondent for Latino Rebels. She is a member the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY’s Class of 2019. Natalia tweets from @nataliarodmed.