LatinoJustice PRLDEF Celebrates 40 years of Leadership and Commitment to Civil Rights in the Latino Community


Contact: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 917-673-9095, or via Twitter @LJPgarcia

More than 600 lawyers, elected officials, judges, law students and community leaders are expected to attend LatinoJustice’s National 40th Anniversary Gala on Thursday to celebrate and honor the organization’s long commitment fighting for the community’s civil rights.

The gala will honor Univision as the Legacy Leader for the company’s tremendous longtime support of civil rights. Also receiving honors will be Gloria Santona, General Counsel, Mcdonald's Corporation, who will be awarded the Lucero Award. The law firm of Duane Morris LLP will receive the Pro Bono Public Honoree Award. The Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic of The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale will receive the Community Justice Leader Award.

Over the past 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has won many landmark civil rights cases in education, worker, housing, voter and immigrant rights. The organization’s cases have been critical in ensuring fair and bilingual election systems and fair redistricting opportunities for the nation’s largest minority.

More than 7,000 students have come through LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s program since its birth 40 years ago. Hundreds of LatinoJustice PRLDEF students have become prominent lawyers and judges throughout the country.

“It will be a great night to celebrate our important past but also to recognize a very promising future,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel. “This organization has played a critical role in the Latino community’s history, from fighting for civil rights, to helping increase the number of Latino and Latina lawyers to creating thousands of leaders around the country. Our founders got it right.”

LatinoJustice PRLDEF was formed as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund in 1972 by three young Puerto Rican lawyers. Jorge Batista, Victor Marrero and Cesar Perales modeled the organization after the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.

“We started PRLDEF to bring justice to the community and to help grow a cadre of Latino lawyers who would go into the community to fight for civil rights, said Cesar Perales, one of the founders and the first President of the organization. “Throughout the years, the organization has played a critical role in our community, one that is as necessary today as it was 40 years ago.”

In the past few years LatinoJustice has played a critical role in helping to create new election districts in New York, Philadelphia and Florida and has played a key role in voter protection cases in several jurisdictions.

Presently LatinoJustice PRLDEF is involved in many important cases, including an effort to stop unfair policing practices in New York, an attempt to deny voting rights to Latinos in Florida and an effort to disenfranchise the vote of Latinos in Pennsylvania.


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