The organization Latino Leaders Network awarded the prestigious Antonio Villaraigosa Leadership distinction to the Mayor of Houston, Texas, Sylvester Turner at the Tribute to Mayors event held at the Mayflower Hotel on January 23.
Hon. Mickey Ibarra, Director of the Latino Leaders Network, began the ceremony recalling the Antonio Villaraigosa Leadership Award history and indicated that its goal is to acknowledge the work of outstanding mayors dedicated to the inclusion of their diverse communities.
He then welcomed Hon. Villaraigosa who would say a few words to introduce the honored personality of the event.
Villaraigosa pointed out that the organization Latino Leaders Network does not only aspire to acknowledge Latino leaders but also the people of the diverse communities that are part of the American nation. Therefore, the recognition goes to Mayor Sylvester Turner who was Member of the Texas House of Representatives for 27 years.
The relevant speaker described him as a man “of resilience, a man who never stays down” and stressed the importance of his inclusive education projects.
Villaraigosa, visibly moved, invited Mickey Ibarra to award Mayor Sylvester Turner the important Latino Leaders Network distinction.
The Mayor of Houston remarks began by thanking Mickey Ibarra for his dedication and proved leadership. He also confessed the emotion of receiving this award from Antonio Villaraigosa.
His words of gratitude were extended to various personalities related to the event.
Mayor Sylvester Turner explained what it means to be the Mayor of “the most diverse city in the United States of America,” where “one of four Houstonians is foreign born” This fact is the fundament of his philosophy of working inclusively to ensure collective participation. “It is important for people to see themselves around the table of decision-making (…) in the commissions, the department heads”.
He also highlighted the idea of feeling responsible for the welfare and for the support that his position means to the people “I am your mayor, the alcalde, and I represent what you are,” he said.
The honoree closed his speech answering a question that someone once asked him about the reason for being so involved with complex education problems if he had more comfortable options?
He answered talking about his humble origin. Neither of his parents graduated from high school. His father died at an early age and it was his mother, a hotel service worker, who labored hard for the sole purpose of guaranteeing his son the opportunity to study.
And it’s that woman, her mother, the main reason to be who he is today. “I didn’t get here because I’m so gifted or talented. I got here on the backs of moms and dads who did not graduate from high school but who knew the key to success was education”.
Turner: Necessary integration
To receive the Leadership Award from Antonio Villaraigosa himself was very significant for Mayor Sylvester Turner because the education initiative implemented by him in Houston was inspired by the work of former mayor Villaraigosa in Los Angeles.
Turner said that in an interview for EL Sol Latino where he also explained the development of the integration process that takes place in the diverse communities of that city.
“In Houston we are leading the way about the integration of diverse communities”, emphasized the awarded Mayor.
He added that for the population of his city, which has a high percentage of foreign origin people, it is important that its leaders understand their struggles and their problems. Hence the need to integrate members of minority groups in positions of social, economic and political relevance. Not only people from Hispanic origin but from all the cultural diversity of that important city.
Ibarra: Turner represents inclusion
Hon. Mickey Ibarra explained that his message of inclusion and his commitment to diversity were the reasons to reward Mayor Sylvester Turner.
He exemplified Turner´s commitment with the fact of having “a Latino chief of police and a Latino chief of fire in Houston”.
“One of the important leadership trace we are looking for are those who are compromised with the idea of inclusion, of putting our people at the table of decision making, Mayor Turner represents that”. Said Mike Ibarra in an interview for El Sol Latino.
He also underlined the importance of addressing community needs in its greatest diversity: Latinos, African-Americans, and many others that are facing common needs in all our communities.
He also announced the publication of their first book “The Latino Leaders Speak, Personal Stories of Struggle and Triumph”, as a way to extend their reach to share their personal stories, of obstacles overcome to achieve success.
Villaraigosa in solidarity with the migrants
“I will go on fighting, defending our community, especially in these times when there is a president who build walls instead of bridges”. With these words former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa expressed the goals of his work for the Hispanic community.
In an interview for El Sol Latino, Villaraigosa expressed his solidarity with the migrants who come to the United States with the intention to build up and who deserve a migration policy different from the current one.
Facing division attempts, he indicated that “We will not tolerate this anti-Mexican, anti-Latino, anti-migrant policy.”
Referring to the particular values that distinguish the Latino community in the United States, he mentioned family, hard work and trust in God.
Finally, he sent a message to the migrants and to those who aspire to achieve their citizenship “Keep on fighting” because “one day we will win”.