On October 29, 2020 the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus (MBLLC) celebrated the close of Latinx Heritage Month with pride, commemorating the countless contributions of the Massachusetts Latinx community.
The virtual event featured opening words from Kenneth Romero Executive Director of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislatures (NHCSL) – an affiliate of the Council of State Governments, and powerful remarks from nominees who served as a testament to the resilience and innovation of the rising population of Latinos across the Commonwealth, who continually impact their communities despite grim challenges. “The Latino contributions are shaping a new and diverse Massachusetts. We are teachers, principals, nurses, doctors, builders, motivators and are motivated to make a difference in our communities for the next generation. Somos un pueblo – we are one community,” said Chairman of the MBLLC, Representative Carlos González (D-Springfield).
The Latinx community reaches every pocket of Massachusetts and members of the Lynn Legislative Delegation were proud to nominate active community members, Elizabeth Lopez, Thelma Velasquez, and Quendia Martinez for their many contributions. Elizabeth Lopez has enthusiastically volunteered her time at the Salvation Army of Lynn from the start of the pandemic and has been involved in clean-up efforts and beautification initiatives of Lynn’s parks and streets. Thelma Velasquez has been a trusted voice in communicating information to a large segment of Lynn’s Latinx community and is well known for her excellent work as a reporter. She has worked tirelessly to support Census Data Collection throughout the City of Lynn, and has contributed her time to organizations such as the Lynn Latino Support Network, Essex Foundation, Boston Foundation, Eastern Bank, Bob Hildreth Foundation, and LEO, helping hundreds of families access financial support for rent and food assistance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Quendia Martinez is a Career Coach Advisor at MassHire Career Center, and gives back to the community by motivating local students and adults in their education and career goals, to access better job opportunities. She is also on the board of Pathways, an adult education and training program, is a member of the Lynn Latino Leadership Coalition, and actively volunteers in city of Lynn.
“The Lynn community is very grateful for the dedicated work of individuals such as Thelma and Elizabeth, and we were honored to nominate them for this year’s Latinx Trailblazer Awards,” said Senator Brendan Crighton. “Their selfless acts of kindness and continued efforts for the Latino community speak volumes about their character.”
“Congratulations to Elizabeth and Thelma on their well-deserved recognition,” said Representative Dan Cahill. “Their selflessness and commitment to both the Latino and Greater Lynn community is truly admirable. Elizabeth and Thelma have truly made a life-changing difference in the lives of so many whose world was turned upside down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“It was an honor to nominate Quendia Martinez as a 2020 Massachusetts Latinx Trailblazer for her dedication to helping students overcome obstacles to their education and plan for the future,” said Representative Peter Capano. “Quendia is the definition of a Latinx trailblazer. She has overcome immense barriers to her own education and chosen to give back to the community in Lynn and help others who face the same challenges.”
“Congratulations to Thelma and Elizabeth for going above and beyond for their neighbors,” said Representative Lori Ehrlich. “Thelma, through her work as a reporter and a volunteer, and Elizabeth, a volunteer fighting the pandemic, have been powerful examples of what strong communities need to thrive. I am grateful for their dedication.”
“We are very fortunate to have people like Elizabeth Lopez and Thelma Velasquez in our community who have stepped up to go above and beyond during this pandemic by volunteering and working effortlessly to make a difference in our city,” said Representative Donald Wong.
The celebration recognized the rich cultural history of the Massachusetts Latinx community, and perhaps more importantly, served as a valuable opportunity to learn from one another.
Nominated by legislators of the House and Senate, each 2020 Latinx Trailblazer has demonstrated exceptional leadership and served as a powerful reminder that leadership means a dedicated investment in the power of community. Some nominees hold an elected position, forging new programs for the Latinx community; other nominees are young, passionate activists who have catalyzed change from climate change to LGBT+ representation and equality.
The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus (MBLLC) was created in 1973, with the intent to be a leading voice on Beacon Hill for communities of color across Massachusetts. We also seek to empower constituents to gain a deeper sense of political awareness on issues concerning them and their greater communities. The MBLLC’s fourteen legislators remain dedicated to serving communities of color throughout the Commonwealth through legislative, budgetary, and community endeavors