Democracy Spotlight: Eliseo Medina, Labor and Civil Rights Champion

On February 10, Common Cause Illinois will honor Eliseo Medina with the 2016 Champion of Democracy Award

Posted on January 8, 2016

We invite you to join us in honoring Eliseo Medina as a Champion of Democracy!

Eliseo Medina began his legacy in 1965 as a 19-year-old grape picker who joined the United Farm Workers, where he spent 13 years alongside César Chávez and Dolores Huerta fighting for labor reform and civil rights across the United States. In 1996, Medina became the first Mexican American to be elected to an international position at SEIU, organizing the Latino community in order to increase representation during elections and hold elected officials accountable. After 16 years with SEIU, he resigned to dedicate more time to the issue of immigration reform. 

Medina remains an outspoken advocate for immigration reform and worker’s rights. In 2013, he joined other activists and spent 22 days in a water-only fast, which urged lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration legislation. After breaking his fast, Medina stated, "We will be holding the Congress accountable for their actions or inactions as it pertains to immigration reform. If they don't vote for us today, why should we vote for them tomorrow?" President Obama publicly acknowledged Medina and all of the fasting families by saying, "We hear you, we're with you. The whole country is with you."

Eliseo Medina with President Obama

In his 2014 Huffington Post op-ed, Medina made a fearless statement to the world: "We can let politics, pundits and ambivalence on strategy rule us, or we can live by our words and our moral conviction to do right by those who depend on us."

Common Cause Illinois is proud to be working on issues of justice and democracy with Medina, a 2014 visiting fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.

Help us honor Eliseo Medina as a Champion of Democracy by reserving your seat today! 

Office: Common Cause Illinois, Common Cause National

Issues: Organizing and Equity

Tags: Voting Rights

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