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“Stop the Hate: Come Together” Martin Luther King Day Celebration

Join El Centro de la Raza on January 16th, 2017 for this important celebration of Martin Luther King Day. The MLK Seattle Celebration Committee is organizing a celebration with workshops, rallies, and a march. All events will begin at Garfield High School (400 23rd Ave East Jefferson) and workshops will be held from 9:30 AM – 10:50 AM. Read more or learn how to get involved here.

MLK Day poster

Seventh Annual Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award

Roberto Maestas’ life was dedicated to building the “Beloved Community”* through multi-racial unity. He deeply believed that poverty, racism and social inequity could only be eradicated if people of all races and backgrounds came together to do so.

In honor of Roberto and his legacy the Seventh Annual Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award recognizes two individuals who have exemplified Building the Beloved Community through multi-racial unity and working to eliminate poverty, racism and social inequity.

Awardees will be celebrated with a $1,000 gift in their name to an organization of their choice. They will be recognized at El Centro de la Raza’s 45th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, September 30, 2017 at The Seattle Westin.

Legacy Award applicants can self-nominate or be nominated by someone else. Awardees are asked to participate in a video interview and attend El Centro de la Raza’s Building the Beloved Community Gala.

The deadline for application submission is Monday, April 17th at 5 PM Pacific Time. Click here for an application form.

Reaffirming Our Status as a Sensitive Location for All Immigrants

El Centro de la Raza was founded in 1972 in the old Beacon Hill School as an organization dedicated to building the Beloved Community in Seattle.  Forty-five years later, El Centro de la Raza has become an indispensable community and convening center for all people, but particularly those in the Latino community.

We provide human and emergency services including a food bank, infant mortality prevention for pregnant women, and homeless assistance.  Our asset building programs include financial education, foreclosure counseling, job training, and bilingual/ESL classes.  Our housing and economic development includes the Plaza Roberto Maestas, which features 112 affordable housing units, in addition to several other housing locations in Seattle that offer another 18 units of affordable and low-income units.  In 2016, over 10,000 households took advantage of El Centro de la Raza’s services, and over 346 people were living on our properties.

But true to our roots, El Centro de la Raza has remained, first and foremost, a school.  Our world renowned José Martí Child Development Center provides bilingual and multicultural preschool curriculum to children aged 1-5.  Our after school program tutors elementary students aged 5-12.  Middle schoolers take advantage of our summer school program.  Our Roberto Maestas Youth Leadership Institute helps address the opportunity gap in K-12 education by empowering a cohort of 30-40 Latino youth in King County to grow as leaders.  And our college readiness program helps middle- and high-school students in Seattle create a post-secondary education plan with one-on-one support.  Those are just a few of the many programs we offer to help educate babies, toddlers, youth, and young adults.

But the vulnerable communities El Centro de la Raza serves are in grave danger as the federal government has threatened to implement draconian immigration policies that could tear families apart.  The young children in our preschool are worried and nervous that their parents might not come home.  Undocumented students who have grown up in this country are afraid of being sent back to a place they have never known.

While our Beloved Community has been shaken with fear and trepidation, our resolve has not wavered.  For nearly half a century, El Centro de la Raza has been a pillar in the Seattle community, a place for all people to convene, learn, and get the help they need without fear of being taken away from their families.

We therefore reaffirm that for purposes of immigration enforcement policy, El Centro de la Raza is a sensitive location, like any other school.  As with other sensitive locations, such as hospitals and churches, we expect federal authorities not to conduct immigration raids on any of our properties, including our housing developments (which themselves offer after-school programs and other educational services).

El Centro de la Raza has a moral responsibility to the community we serve.  We will vigorously defend the rights of our people, and nonviolently resist any attempt to target El Centro de la Raza with immigration enforcement raids.  From this point forward, we will have attorneys onsite or on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to ensure that our community is protected.

El Centro de la Raza will always remain a place where families can receive information and resources in a safe and welcoming place.  We call on local, state, and federal leaders to recognize El Centro de la Raza’s unique and special role in the Seattle community as a school and gathering place for all people.

Since 1972 we have worked together to build a Beloved Community in Seattle.  We will do everything we can to defend our Beloved Community from those who would threaten our values of love, nonviolence, and inclusion.

Respetuosamente,

Estela's Signiture

Estela Ortega
Sensitive Location for Immigrants

Closing the Representation Gap: Pass the Washington Voting Rights Act

Washington state and many of its local jurisdictions have a representation problem: at every level of government, people of color are underrepresented. This means that our communities across Washington state are not able to put their voices into local government because they are not represented. It is an injustice to not have everyone represented in their democracy, and democracy works best when everyone is engaged and can have their voice heard.
2017 Washington Voting Rights Act Information

El Centro de la Raza and Environmental Protection Agency Air and Noise Health Impact Project

El Centro & EPA Beacon Hill Air and Noise Health Impact Project
In the spirit of the beloved community, El Centro is collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reach out, educate, and empower Beacon Hill residents on air and noise health impacts.

Seattle’s Beacon Hill community neighborhood is adversely affected by air and noise pollution from mobile vehicles such as cars, trucks, trains, airplanes and ships. It is surrounded by Interstate 5 and 90 on its west and north borders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Rainier Avenue on its east border, and the Port of Seattle and three airports on its west and south borders.

The health data from the Seattle/King County Public Health, the Seattle City Comprehensive Plan, and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency show that Beacon Hill residents have high environmental health risks for cancer, stroke, diabetes and asthma.  It has the highest infant mortality in King County and has cancer risks for toxic air pollutants in the same range as the Duwamish industrial area.

The Project will offer English and bilingual training classes on air and noise health impacts to Beacon Hill residents from late spring through September.  Class representatives will then gather at a conference in October to identify and prioritize projects that can address air and noise health impacts for implementation in 2018.

Since Beacon Hill’s population is extremely diverse with 44% immigrant and refugees, and 80% people of color (50% Asian Pacific Islander, 22% African Americans, and 8% Latino/Hispanic), El Centro is hiring English and bilingual multicultural talent fluent in Chinese-Taishanese, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.  The application period for 6 Community Organizers, 10 Trainers, 5 Translators, 18 Project Assistants and Graphics/Web Designer closes on February 28, 2017.  For job details, please see http://www.elcentrodelaraza.org/job-openings-at-el-centro-de-la-raza/.

The project is guided by a Steering Committee that includes Asian Counseling & Referral Services, Got Green, Interim Community Development Association, International Community Health Services, and Puget Sound SAGE.
For more information contact:
Maria Batayola mbjumpstart@msn.com
(206) 293 2951

Travel Ban and Immigration Restrictions

Our communities have been put in grave danger by the new executive order put in place by Donald Trump last week. Refugees, students, visitors, and legal permanent United States residents with green cards were stopped in airports across the United States, some being blocked from entering.

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was one of the places where up to 13 people were held in detention, and over a thousand people came to protest and show their support.

Although the administration is calling this a “travel ban,” it is unmistakeable that this policy directly and inhumanely targets the Muslim community. We stand with the Muslim community, and will continue to fight together against unjust policies.

It is clear that the new administration will continue to target immigrant and refugee communities. Please be aware that there may be new orders that focus on deporting immigrants who seek public assistance and social services: read more here.

It is important for everyone to know their legal rights when encountering immigration or other officers. For more resources on your rights in different situations, click here or here for information in Spanish and here for English. Children often have unique legal situations and rights: information in Spanish and in English can help families with children who are facing different immigration-related issues.

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To listen to a legal interpretation in English of the new executive order and what it means for immigrant families, see the video from Colective Legal del Pueblo below, or the video from Northwest Immigrant Rights Project for Spanish. Please note that both of these videos were filmed last week on January 27th, and information may have changed since then.
Colective Legal vid 2NWIRP Jorge Baron vid
Left: Sandy Restrepo, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Colectiva Legal del Pueblo in Burien, WA.
Right: Jorge Barón, Executive Director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle, WA.

At El Centro de la Raza, we are fighting back. After our Know Your Rights Workshop in January, we discussed arrest and detention processes with over 120 attendees, but many had specific questions that needed to be addressed one-on-one. We will be hosting another free bilingual legal clinic next week on Wednesday, February 8th from 6 PM – 8 PM at El Centro de la Raza with volunteery attorneys from the Law Office of Schroeter Goldmark & Bender and the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington.

To support El Centro de la Raza’s mission of bringing justice, equality, dignity, and freedom to all people, please consider donating to help us create a program to provide support for immigration issues and address other needs that may arise due to the unpredictable administration. This may include case management, legal referrals, and know your rights training. To designate your donation to immigration support, write in “immigration support” in the Program Designation field.

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Plaza Roberto Maestas After-School Program

From Monday through Friday 3:30 PM – 6 PM, El Centro de la Raza provides a free after-school program for middle school youth ages 11-14. The after-school program will deliver literacy tutoring, homework assistance, technology training, exercise and activities to build reading comprehension, writing, math, and science skills. It will also provide cultural enrichment modules, encompassing a range of team-building, identity-exploration, and connecting individuals’ needs to larger community issues. Classes are held in the east wing community room of Plaza Roberto Maestas. Contact Mark Alvarez at malvarez@elcentrodelaraza.org for more information.

Complete Ethics Review for Cabinet Nominations

The Senate is currently trying to rush through congressional hearings for 10 of Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominations. By doing this, they are trying to skip past the standard ethics review process that nominees must go through. Sign a petition here to insist that the Senate vet nominees and undergo standard background checks. In addition to this, the nomination of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general has dire consequences because of the Senator’s history with racial justice and views on immigration. Sign a petition here to withdraw the nomination of Jeff Sessions and preserve justice for all Americans.

Protect the Affordable Care Act

This week a new bill was released that repeals the Affordable Care Act. The bill will primarily benefit those who are wealthy and healthy and end health coverage for millions of people in America. The bill reduces the premium subsidies that help millions afford health insurance, ends financial assistance for those who are low-income to reduce their out-of-pocket costs and deductibles, and provides billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthy and to large corporations.

Lawmakers need to hear from you about how important the Affordable Care Act is. Call your member of Congress at (866) 426-2631 to tell them that you oppose the new bill. Read more about the bill and what changes it will incur here and here.

Protect Our Care

Procurement Committee Meeting

Help El Centro de la Raza celebrate our 45th Anniversary Gala! Be a part of the committee that helps generate over $30,000 for our 48 programs and services. The main responsibility will be to help us procure items for our Silent & Live Auction. Please help us continue to build the Beloved Community! The next meeting of the committee will be held on May 25th at 5:30 PM in the El Centro de la Raza main building. If you are interested in joining the committee please contact Mario Sanchez, Development Associate at events@elcentrodelaraza.org or (206) 957-4649.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017 Speech

On January 16th 2017, El Centro de la Raza staff participated in the MLK Day rally and march organized by the MLK Seattle Celebration Committee 2017. The executive director of El Centro de la Raza, Estela Ortega, was one of many speakers of the rally. Read her full speech below!

MLK eNews photosRead the speech in Spanish and English below. Mil gracias to volunteer Maria Hatch for translating the speech.

El Centro de la Raza se traduce como “The Center for People of All Races”. Es un honor para nosotros que se nos haya dado la oportunidad de expresar nuestra solidaridad con la Comunidad Negra, el legado de Dr. King y el objetivo de nuestra querida comunidad de términar con el racismo, la pobreza, la guerra y violencia.

Me gustaría reconocer a Carmen Miranda, nuestra representante del Centro de la Raza, quién ha sido parte del comité directivo de MLK por los últimos 10 años, como parte de nuestro compromiso a la unidad negra y  morena.

A nuestro comité, nos llena de esperanza de que ustedes están transmitiendo el trabajo de una generación a otra con jovenes liderando el camino.

A la comunidad Negra, sepan que entendemos y fomentamos lo que significa Black Lives Matter “Las Vidas Negras Importan” y apoyaremos el movimiento hasta que la comunidad Negra deje de enfrentar violencia desproporcionada en manos de la los agentes de orden público, que no tengan que enfrentar altos niveles de pobreza, desigualdad de salarios, falta de oportunidades de empleo, y cuando nuestros hermanas y hermanos Negros dejen de enfrentar discriminación en las oportunidades de vivienda y educación. Sólo entonces, será imposible para el sístema y las prácticas arraígadas en nuestra sociedad el involucrarse en el racismo en contra de las comunidades de color.

Nuestro tema de hoy es “Stop Hate: Come Together.” Alto al Odio: Unámonos. Ésta preciosa  aliánza multirracial nos da esperanza. Necésitamos aprender a confiar los unos a los otros: ésto fortalece nuetro espíritu de lucha. Trump perdió el voto popular por aproxímadamente 3 millones de votos pero él gano debido al antidemocrático colegio electoral la cual tiene sus vestigios en la esclavitud.

100 millones no votarón en éstas pasadas elecciones presidenciales. Están aquellos, los afectados por la represión de los votantes y aquellos que no vierón a ningún candidato como una opción. Cuántos  de los 94.7 millones de personas en éste país que han abandonado su busqueda de empleo también han abandonado el proceso político? Estámos a favor de los Latinos, Musulmanes, Afromericanos, Asiáticos, inmigrantes, aquellos que se identifican como LGBTQ, Estadounidenses con discapacidades, mujeres de color, gente trabajadora y a todos aquellos que sean atacad@s por Trump y sus compinches.

Hemos estado aquí anteriormente y sabemos que hacer. Cada uno de nosotros formamos el ejército para crear y crecer nuestro movimiento. Necesitamos trabajar más en lo que hemos estado haciendo, poner mayor presión, marchar numerosamente, gritar más fuerte y estar preparados para la desobediencia civil en la escala que vimos en el movimiento Standing Rock. Elevemos nuestras manos a los Nativo Americanos de todo el país que nos han dado un ejemplo de lo que debemos hacer. Pónte de pie y no des marcha atrás!

Tenemos que proteger nuestros derechos constitucionales especialmente para aquellos que serán impactados por las políticas de Trump y proteger los derechos de aquellos  que merecen ser Estadounidenses (Americanos). Nuestra Constitución protege a todos los que viven en éste país, incluyendo a los inmigrantes que no tienen documentos.

Alcaldesa Murray, estamos por siempre agradecidos por su compromiso de que Seattle siga siendo una ciudad santuario para inmigrantes, inclusive, si esto significa arriesgar millones de fondos federales.

El INS no entrará a lugares considerados ”lugares sensibles o vulnerables” como las escuelas, pre-escolares, hospitales, templos de oración, ceremonías religiosas como bodas y funerals y durante demostraciones públicas como éste evento, marchas, mítines y desfiles.
Considere la posibilidad de crear zonas santuario en tus vecindarios por medio del trabajo en conjunto con el Ayuntamiento de tú comunidad. Pedimos a todas las organizaciones sin fines de lucro que considerén la posibilidad de proclamar sus organizaciones como organizaciones santuario. Enviémos un mensaje  a los de INS de que ellos no son bienvenidos y de que Seattle no coopera con ellos.

Para concluír mis hermanos y hermanas, nuestro mandato por los próximos cuatro años es protestar, firmar peticiones, hacer llamadas telefónicas, correos electrónicos, educarnos a nosotros mismos y a los demás, amarnos los unos a los otros, marchar, reúnirse y, en ocaciones cometer desobediencia civil, sin violencia y con amor en nuestros corazones. A nuestros aliados blancos, éduquen a su comunidad y aprendan como deshacer el racismo.

A todos en ésta sala: somos compañeros en la lucha por defender y continuar construyendo nuestra Querida Comunidad. Ustedes son siempre bienvenidos a visitar su casa El Centro de La Raza.

Viva Martin Luther King Jr.! Viva Black Lives Matter! Viva la unidad multiracial!


El Centro de la Raza translates into “The Center for People of All Races.” We are honored to be given the opportunity to express our solidarity with the Black community, the legacy of Dr. King, and the vision of the Beloved Community to end racism, poverty, war, and violence.

I would like to acknowledge Carmen Miranda, our representative from El Centro de la Raza who has been a part of the MLK steering committee for the last 10 years because of our commitment to black and brown unity.

To the entire committee, we are filled with hope that you are carrying on the work from one generation to the next with young people leading the way. To the black community, know that we understand and promote what Black Lives Matter means, and we will support the movement until Black people no longer disproportionately face violence at the hands of law enforcement, no longer face higher levels of poverty, income inequality, lack of access to jobs, and when our black sisters and brothers no longer face discrimination in housing and educational opportunities. Only then will it become impossible for the systems and practices ingrained in our society to engage in racism against communities of color.

Our theme today is “Stop Hate: Come Together.” This beautiful multi-racial coalition gives us hope. We need to learn how to rely on each other: this is nourishing to our fighting spirit.
Trump lost the popular vote by about 3 million votes but he won because of the undemocratic electoral college that has its vestiges in slavery.

100 million did not vote in this past presidential election. They are those impacted by voter suppression and those who didn’t see either candidate as an option. How many of the 94.7 million people in this country who have given up searching for work also gave up on the political process too?

We will stand up for Latinos, Muslims, African-Americans, Asians, immigrants, those who identify as LGBTQ, disabled Americans, women of color, working people and all those being attacked by Trump and his cronies.

We have been here before and we know what to do. Each and every one of us make up the army to create and grow our movement. We need to increase the work that we have been doing, apply even greater pressure, march in greater numbers, shout louder and be prepared for civil disobedience on the scale that we saw at Standing Rock. We raise our hands to the Native Americans across the country who have given us an example of what we must do. Stand up and do not back down!

We have to protect our constitutional rights especially for the many that will be impacted by Trump’s policies, and protect the rights of those who deserve to be Americans. Our Constitution protects everybody who lives in this country, including immigrants who don’t have immigration documents. To Mayor Murray, we are forever grateful for your commitment to having Seattle remain a sanctuary city for immigrants even if it means risking millions of federal funding.

The INS will not enter places that are considered “sensitive locations” such as schools, pre-schools, hospitals, places of worship, religious ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, and during public demonstrations like this event today, marches, rallies and parades.

Consider making your neighborhoods sanctuary zones by working with your community councils. We ask all non-profit organizations to consider proclaiming their organizations as sanctuary organizations. Let’s send a message to the INS that they are not welcome and we will not cooperate with you in Seattle.

In closing mis hermanas y hermanos, our mandate for the next four years is to protest, sign petitions, make phone calls, e-mail, educate ourselves and others, love each other, march, rally, and at times commit civil disobedience, always non-violently and with love in our hearts. To our white allies, educate your community and learn how to undo racism.

To everyone in this room: we are comrades in the struggle to defend and continue to build our Beloved Community. You are always welcome to come and visit your home at El Centro de La Raza.
Viva Martin Luther King Jr! Viva Black Lives Matter! Viva multi-racial unity!