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Press Release

Hispanic University President and Latina Politician to Receive Civil Rights Award

Release Date: July 30, 2001
Contact: Keda Alcala, Executive Director  (916) 441-3626

(Sacramento, CA) Dr. B. Roberto Cruz, President and Founder of The National Hispanic University and Supervisor Gloria Molina will be awarded The 2001 Mario G. Obledo Award by the National Coalition of Hispanic Organizations at a special ceremony on Saturday, August 18, 7:30 pm at Gabbianos Restaurant, 1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco. Sponsorship tables are selling from $1,000-$5,000. All proceeds go to NCHO, a non‑profit, 501 (c) (3) organization.

The Mario G. Obledo Award is named after national Hispanic civil rights leader and founder of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). The award is presented annually to an outstanding Hispanic male and female civil rights leader who has brought about equality of opportunity to disenfranchised Hispanic citizens through their courage and deeds. The 2001 Mario G. Obledo Award will be presented to Dr. B. Roberto Cruz, President and founder of the National Hispanic University that is celebrating its 20th anniversary (1981‑2001), and, political leader and Latina women advocate, Gloria Molina, Los Angeles Supervisor.

Dr. B. Roberto Cruz a civil rights advocate for language minority populations was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, one of five brothers, from humble working‑class parents. During the summers Cruz picked cotton with his family. He received a football scholarship to Wichita State University in Kansas where he completed his BA degree with a major in Spanish and minor in Education. Later he completed a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction and a Ph.D. in Policy, Planning and Administration from U.C. Berkeley. Dr. Cruz's 37‑year career in education includes teaching at different levels elementary, secondary and higher education in Berkeley Unified, Stockton Unified, St. Mary's College, California State University, Hayward, and Stanford University. Dr. Cruz is recognized as a national expert and leader for language minority students. His statewide and national leadership roles for language minority students include stints as President of the California Association of Bilingual Education (CABE) and the National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE), and appointment by the U.S. Secretary to the National Advisory Board of Bilingual Education. He is founder of the following institutions: Bay Area Bilingual Education League, a 5‑district bilingual education K‑12 consortium in Berkeley, 1971‑1980; the VIDA (Vehicle for Individuals to Develop Aspirations) Bilingual Child Development Center in Berkeley, 1975‑present; Project ADELANTE Adult Skills Training Center, Berkeley, 1976‑present; the National Hispanic Center for Advanced Studies and Policy Analysis in Oakland/San Jose, 1980‑present; and, in 1981, The National Hispanic University in Oakland/San Jose. His numerous awards include induction into U.C. Berkeley Phi Delta Kappa, induction into the LULAC Hispanic Hall of Fame, induction into the African American Educators Hall of Fame, Outstanding Educator Award, Hispanic Magazine, the Martin Luther King Good Neighbor Award, Operation Push Leadership Award, Oakland Asian Community Leadership Recognition, and over 120 other education awards.

Supervisor Gloria Molina is an activist politician born in Pico Rivera, a small working‑class community in San Gabriel. She is the oldest of ten children. Supervisor Molina believes in empowering women and the Latino community through the political process. She became involved in politics as a teenager in Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign, the United Farm Workers campaign for justice, and later the anti‑war movement in Viet Nam. In 1973 she was one of the founders and first President of a Hispanic women's organization, Commission Femenil who fought for political equality for Latinas. Ms. Molina worked as a bilingual secretary to help support her family and volunteered in campaigns to help elect Latinos into political offices. Her political skills were refined while working for President Jimmy Carter's administration and State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown's office. In 1982, Ms. Molina was elected to the State Assembly for five years. Then, in 1987, she was elected to the LA City Council where she served until 1991 when she decided to run for a seat on the powerful LA county board of supervisors. By winning this latter seat, Ms. Molina had broken new ground for Latinas becoming the first Utina Assembly Member, City Council Member, and, first Latina LA County Supervisor. At each post she has been a strong civil rights advocate for the poor, the working class, immigrants, and Spanish‑speaking.

The National Coalition of Hispanic Organizations (NCHO) is a non‑profit organization devoted to problems and challenges facing Hispanics similarly situated in the areas of employment, education, health, and public services in the public and private sectors. NCHO is a tax‑exempt organization under section 501 ( c) (3) of the internal revenue Code. NCHO is based in Sacramento and is headed by Mario G. Obledo. For further information on NCHO contact Keda Alcala, Executive Director (916) 441-3626.