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Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 6-30

Just a Thought: Rosa Rosales
By Steve Walker

Continuing on my mission to write about local and national Hispanic icons for the past 10 weeks, today, I choose another female, a well-known activist for immigration reform and Latino issues, Rosa Rosales.

A beloved member of the local community she is revered by many to include myself for her willingness to stand up for the weak and disenfranchised and fight for human dignity when she sees it is being abused.

She is the immediate Past National LULAC President having served two terms as the organization’s national spokesperson.

A woman who doesn’t mince words, Rosa Rosales has been at the forefront along with the likes of United International Farm Workers President Cesar Chavez, and local activist and member of LULAC, Jaime Martinez. “Just a Thought” has covered both Chavez & Martinez in recent weeks.

What makes her so unique is her dignified and maternal demeanor that at times can quickly escalate into passionate fiery rhetoric when challenged to defend the underdog and those she feel are being discriminated against. 

When necessary, she lets her adversaries know that she is not to be trifled with or summarily dismissed as someone not familiar with the issue at hand.

When she addresses Latino issues she is prepared, speaks articulately, passionately and will not hesitate to take her antagonist to task.

CNN Financial Anchor Lou Dobbs, (now Fox News Talk Show host) hosted a town forum entitled "Broken Borders" at the Empire Theatre, October 25th, 2006. The hour long live show featured then LULAC President Rosa Rosales, David Trasvina, a lawyer from MALDEF, Austin Republican Congressman Mike McCaul and various experts on immigration in America from Washington.
Mayor Lou Barletta of Hazelton, Pennsylvania showed up to blast illegal immigration and told the audience of his city's recent ordinance prohibiting citizen's from renting or hiring "illegal aliens" who he says is taking over his town.

The debate became heated when Dobbs asked Rosales if she thought Mexico was doing its part in the war on illegal immigration. Charges of racism were hurled in the debate with the panel which was airing live on CNN from 6 -7 p.m. Rosales also took exception to the term "illegal alien" vs. undocumented worker.

She took him to task reminding him that Hispanics were not aliens from outer space as he unsuccessfully tried to cut her off. She didn’t flinch, holding her own while continuing to speak. He shook his head laughing and rolling his eyes and let her finish her comments. She was roundly cheered by the local attendees.

I also had the pleasure of her presence in my courtroom once when I was a Judge. She successfully and articulately spoke against an illegal eviction of a tenant who had actually paid their rent. She was eloquent, focused on the issue referencing the law and saving the lady from being wrongfully evicted.  

I have been fortunate to hear her speak on many occasions and take her photos as well. A woman of integrity, dignity and class, I am honored to know her and just be in the same room with her. She definitely belongs in the group of icons appearing in this column for weeks.         

Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.

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