(September 25, 2014, Los Angeles) – Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and the CLEAN Car Wash Campaign received top honors as the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) celebrated its 31st Anniversary Awards Dinner last night at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Grijalva has been a champion for immigrants and workers throughout his long career as a public servant. He co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was a vocal opponent of Arizona's SB 1070 law that mandates police to check citizenship documentation during traffic stops, detentions, and arrests. After the measure became law, Grijalva called on legal, political, activist and business groups not to hold their conventions or conferences in the state, which others took up as a call to boycott Arizona businesses.
“Respect for this country requires that we, the immigrants, keep moving it forward,” Grijalva said during his acceptance speech.
Also honored were this year’s Social Justice Medalists, people who have a long and deep commitment to the struggle for social justice. This year’s medalists also have close ties to CARECEN, as they are long-time supporters of the organization.
This year’s honorees were: Cecilia Bográn, Univision reporter and CARECEN board member; Nora Hamilton, retired USC professor and lifelong activist; Elio Martinez, CARECEN founding member and key activist for Temporary Protective Status; Carlos Ovalle, past executive director of CARECEN and responsible for the redesign of the organization’s headquarters; and Debbie Willis, longtime volunteer who, year after year, has provided design help for CARECEN’s published materials.
Entertainment was provided by the son jarocho band Cambalache and the cumbia band Los Jornaleros del Norte. Cambalache plays and promotes traditional son jarocho music through concerts, presentations and workshops. In the spirit of fandango, a traditional celebration based on music and dance from Veracruz, Mexico, Cambalache invites the public to participate in the performance. In its mission to spread the gospel of son jarocho, Cambalache has performed at primary schools, universities, museum, music festivals, etc.
Los Jornaleros mix themes of workers' struggle and resistance with joyful Latino cumbia sounds, to make music that touches the heart of la comunidad. They sing for the worker, for the student and the immigrant who, in spite of obstacles, keep hope alive, work for a more equitable world, and keep dancing all the while.
There was also a silent auction of art by Latino artists, including Carlos Almaraz, Irene Carranza, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
CARECEN has worked for 31 years to protect the rights and dignity of Central American and Latino immigrants in Southern California. Since its founding in 1983, when thousands of Central Americans were fleeing the brutality of civil war, CARECEN has worked to change unjust immigration policies, win legal status for immigrants, and foster community activism on issues such as education reform, workers and immigrant rights, economic justice and community strengthening.