National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 20 Years of Latina Leadership Search
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2004 Mujer Award Recipients

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Marjorie Agosin is one of the most important, original, eloquent, and productive Latin American woman writers in the United States. She is a poet, writer, editor, scholar, teacher, creative thinker, and activist in the field of human rights and women’s rights. She is a woman of integrity, passion and intellectual brilliance.

Marjorie has been an essential voice in the effort to redefine Latina/Latina-Americana identity in ways that challenge stereotypes and simplistic constructions of our history. Thanks to Marjorie’s presence and the generosity of her work, she has created a space for Latin American Jewish and Latina Jewish writers in the United States. Just in the last few years, she has brought out an impressive number of anthologies of Latin American Jewish women poets and writers, in English, Spanish, and in bilingual editions. Her commitment to building a community of Latin American Jewish writing is one of the many ways in which she has shown that writing can be a form of activism.

Her work in human rights was recently recognized in a rare and prestigious award from the United Nations, which gave her a Leadership Award in Human Rights.

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Born in 1923 in the rural town of Millet, Texas, Adelfa Botello Callejo has participated in the struggles of Mexican-Americans every day of her life. In Millet, Mexican parents were required to send their children to segregated schools, which they usually attended only through the primary grades, and later, buried their dead in the segregated cemetery. Today Ms. Callejo is one of Texas’s most eminent lawyers, and her efforts have helped people of Hispanic heritage to advance as well.

She remains fully committed to her belief that advocacy is the most important aspect of lawyers’ work. Her practice now involves mostly catastrophic injury, family law, workmen’s compensation and immigration cases. She holds workshops in the community to help new residents learn U.S. laws and understand their rights. She also works to educate the non-Hispanic community about the plight of immigrants and the need to change attitudes toward immigration.

Reflecting on her early poverty and the lack of role models in her early years as an aspiring attorney, Ms. Callejo urges young people not to dwell on the obstacles they face but rather to focus on their objectives and goals and find a way to achieve them. She advises them not to be afraid of power, and to work hard, as she did, “to gain the arsenal of weapons necessary to make a difference-legal training, grass roots involvement, money and courage!”

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