Felicidades to Legacy Awardee Monserrat Padilla

Monserrat Padilla has been organizing LGBTQ, immigrant and communities of color on the ground for over ten years to build collective movement power. She was a co-founder of the Washington Dream Coalition and has led national and statewide campaigns, including the victory on the Washington State Dream Act to expand eligibility for state aid in higher education to undocumented students.

Monserrat worked as the National Program Coordinator for the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, a program of United We Dream, where she worked across the country building a national network of LGBTQ immigrant community leaders, advocates, and organizers to develop policies and advocate addressing the needs of LGBTQ immigrant communities. Now she is the statewide coordinator for the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, a powerful network of 100+ organizations fighting to protect immigrant and refugee communities in our state.

Monserrat was born in Jalisco, Mexico. At the age of 2, she migrated to the U.S. with her mother and two older siblings. She grew up in East Los Angeles, CA where she became part of the 11 million undocumented families living in the U.S. At the age of 15 she moved to Seattle, Washington, graduating from Chief Sealth International High School in 2010 and attending the University of Washington in Seattle.

The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network is the largest immigrant-led coalition in the state and is a powerful network made up of over 100 organizational members. There are currently over 500 Rapid Response verifiers across the state to respond to ICE attacks. WAISN provides an ICE reporting hotline (1-844-724-3737), a text message alert system (text “JOIN” to 253-201-2833), and resources in multiple languages. WAISN’s mission is to protect and advance the power of immigrant and refugee communities through a multiracial, multilingual, and multi-faith coalition, an organizing strategy that educates and mobilizes statewide to uphold and defend the rights and dignity of all immigrants and refugees, centering the voices of impacted communities. You can find out more about WAISN online at www.waisn.org.

Felicidades to Legacy Awardee Shankar Narayan


Shankar Narayan is Technology and Liberty Project Director at the ACLU of Washington. He advocates, organizes, and litigates to protect civil liberties in a world transformed by technology. Shankar works to bring community values of fairness, transparency, and accountability to powerful surveillance and machine learning technologies, and to lift the voices of groups disproportionately impacted by such technologies, including communities of color, immigrants, religious and gender minorities, organizers and protesters, and others. Shankar has helped pass multiple landmark technology transparency and accountability laws, and continues to campaign for technology corporations to act in ethical and community-centric ways.

For the previous eight years, Shankar was Legislative Director at the ACLU of Washington. His program’s achievements include legislation to achieve marriage equality, restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people, enforce non-discrimination laws in schools, improve police accountability, defeat punitive gang legislation, and protect privacy, among others.

Shankar was previously Policy Director at OneAmerica, where he worked on the frontlines of the immigrant rights struggle. Shankar also practiced technology law at K&L Gates. Shankar has served in leadership roles on Seattle’s Immigrant and Refugee Advisory Board, the Detention Watch Network, the South Asian Bar Association of Washington, the Asian Bar Association of Washington, and the Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession Committee. He graduated from Bates College, Yale Law School, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Shankar was named King County Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer in 2010.

An immigrant, Shankar grew up in the Soviet Union, U.S., Maldives, India, Yugoslavia, Thailand, and Russia before coming to America for college. He enjoys the outdoors, travel, motorcycling, and Anatolian shepherds. A poet, he is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a recipient of fellowships and prizes from Kundiman, Hugo House, Flyway, Paper Nautilus, and 4Culture.


Shankar’s work aims to protect civil rights and civil liberties in the face of game-changing surveillance and automated decision-making technologies, particularly for the vulnerable communities most impacted by them. Companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and myriad other vendors are inventing and implementing new technologies faster than ever, but those technologies often built in a “black box” without community impacts or values in mind. And on the public side, government entities often adopt automated systems without adequate public input or oversight.

All this matters because these unaccountable, data-driven tools impact every critical decision about a person’s life—whether they will able to get hired for a job, admitted to college, rent a house, get credit, or obtain affordable insurance and health care. These tools influence how people are treated by police, whether they are labeled dangerous, whether they are arrested, whether they’re released or sit behind bars while their cases are pending, whether or not they’re convicted, and the length of their sentence. Frequently deployed without the public knowing about them, these tools often contain significant biases that are impossible to fix.

In the face of these challenges, Shankar’s work aims to both push back on the building of a surveillance infrastructure, and to ensure transparency, accountability, and fairness in both public and private sector technology deployments. With the leadership of a strong, statewide, multi-sector, diverse coalition of organizations, Shankar has helped pass landmark privacy laws at the state level (such as the first law nationwide to protect automotive data) and the local level (such as Seattle laws on transparency and accountability for surveillance technology, and protecting data collected by smart meters). Most recently, the coalition has taken public action to pressure Amazon to stop selling face surveillance technology to governments, sparking a worldwide movement to place limits on this technology; and has facilitated dialogue between tech companies and leaders from impacted communities on how to build technology in a more community-centric way.

Opening Night for Native Gardens

Intiman Theatre takes on race, privilege, and gardening with NATIVE GARDENS by Karen Zacarías (top right), one of the most produced Latina playwrights in the nation. Intiman’s production of NATIVE GARDENS, its third mainstage production of its 2018 WILD, WICKED, WOKE Season, will be directed by Seattle-based director Arlene Martínez-Vázquez (bottom right) and will play at The Jones Playhouse from September 6th through 30th.

NATIVE GARDENS is a full-length, 90-minute play with no intermission. Single tickets range from $28-$38. They are on sale now via intiman.org/nativegardens, Facebook, or through the Intiman Box Office at (206) 315-5838. Intiman Theatre is generously offering discounted ticket prices for the El Centro de la Raza community. Use the following discount to save 42% off and pay $22 only: Intifam

José Martí CDC Graduates 75 Children to Kindergarten

On June 26, program staff, teachers, and families gathered to celebrate and honor 75 youth graduates from José Martí Child Development Center that completed the school year and are graduating to Kindergarten. All year long, the children worked hard to make outstanding progress in all areas of development (social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language), and they are now ready for their next step: Kindergarten!

The ceremony was held at the Centilia Cultural Center with a potluck dinner provided by our kitchen and parents. For the 11th year in a row, José Martí CDC partnered with the Seattle Public Library to promote literacy and bi-literacy goals through the Raising a Reader Program. Cikeithia Pugh recognized the children for their participation and announced that each child would receive with a book bag and certificate for their year of dedicated reading!

After enjoying dinner and receiving gifts from Cikeithia, children of the Viento class shared the song “Que Canten Los Niños” (“Let the Children Sing”) to raise their voices in solidarity for the children separated from their families. Afterward, Native American artist and storyteller, Roger Fernandez, shared his beautiful story about Ant and Bear and their contest over light and darkness. We were honored to hear his story.

To close out the celebration, each class shared their talents through cultural presentations for their families. The children from Arcoiris recited the poem “I Am Graduating,” La Lluvia danced “Jesucita en Chihuahua,” Cristal sang “All I Really Need,” De Colores danced to “Un Poco Loco,” and El Viento danced “El Tilingo Lingo.” We then recognized the youth graduates for their hard work, highlighted their accomplishments, and presented them with certificates.

We would like to give a big thank you to the ECEAP and Step Ahead programs for making it possible for many of our students to attend preschool. We also want to thank Roger Fernandez for sharing his story with the children. Also, many thanks to all of our parents for supporting their children’s educations and getting involved in the program. Last but not least, a BIG congratulations to our graduates on their great year. We are so proud of all of our students and wish you the best of luck in Kindergarten!

SCOTUS Upholds Immigration and Nationality Act

We endure another blow to democracy. In today’s narrow 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Immigration and Nationality Act (also commonly referred to as the Muslim Travel Ban) as constitutional. The unfounded sense of alarm that a group of people may undermine our country’s higher education, national security, healthcare, artistic culture, technology industry, and the overall economy is tremendously credulous.

The Historical Parallels of Trauma in the United States
The INA cannot be repackaged in any other way: it is xenophobic, discriminates humans based on their religious orientation, asserts empty claims of people from Muslim-majority nations traveling to the United States, and repeats the devastating mistakes of splitting up families. From trading enslaved people like property, to sending Native Americans to boarding schools, to justifying the removal of children from their parents’ homes on the basis of the cycle of intergenerational poverty, to deporting Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans in the 1930s because they were seen as responsible for the economic downturn, to imprisoning Japanese Americans despite their loyalty to the United States, and to forcibly separating children and families that are seeking asylum at the southern border. And now this. On which conditions are screening people on a case-by-case basis deemed necessary and appropriate? Under which conditions do “deficient information-sharing practices” lead to terrorism? Under which occasions do we as a superpower stand up to hate and hostility?  

The Responsibilities of the Government’s Fourth Branch
The Supreme Court’s decision to challenge the religious liberty that which the United States was found marks another dark chapter in our history. Do not tolerate today’s decision. Do not collapse from resistance and compassion fatigue. Do not allow our voices to falter. But do understand the vast consequences and implications of today’s decision, do share power with each other, and do vote in the mid-term elections to reshift the balance of power because we grassroots organizations make up the fourth branch of government.

In the words of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, “The President’s disdain for our values and the safety of the American people has led him to undermine relationships with critical allies, embrace autocrats and dictators, launch damaging trade wars and sow fear in our communities with his hateful, ugly language. Whether tearing children from their parents at the border or advancing a ban founded on open bigotry, President Trump is making our nation less safe at home and less respected abroad.”

Ways to support Initiative 1631

INITIATIVE 1631 is an inclusive initiative by the people to promote a cleaner Washington State. You can show your support by:

–              Organizing events where you invite your volunteers, staff, and board members to them. Email Ahmed to coordinate.

–              Recruit new supporters to attend existing events by email and phone. Email Nick for a sample email and Izzy to coordinate phone and text recruitment.

–              Ask your supporters to sign up to receive petitions mailed to them. The deadline is June 27 for mailing petitions back to the office. Email Nick to coordinate.

–              Make sure you bring your I-1631 petitions to any public events you are doing. Email Lauren if you need more petitions.

Why our Children Sing

Children sing to the elders of El Centro de la Raza’s Senior Program.

Que Canten Los Niños

Que canten los niños, que alcen la voz,
Que hagan al mundo escuchar;
Que unan sus voces y lleguen al sol;
En ellos está la verdad.
Que canten los niños que viven en paz.
Y aquellos que sufren dolor;
Que canten por esos que no cantaran
Porque han apagado su voz…
“Yo canto para que me dejen vivir.”
“Yo canto para que sonría mama.”
“Yo canto por que sea el cielo azul.”
“y yo para que no ensucien el mar.”
“Yo canto para los que no tienen pan.”
“Yo canto para que respeten la flor.”
“Yo canto porque el mundo sea feliz.”
“Yo canto para no escuchar el canon.”


“Yo canto por que sea verde el jardín.”
“Y yo para que no apaguen el sol.”
“Yo canto por el que no sabe escribir.”
“y yo por el que escribe versos de amor.”
“Yo canto para que se escuche mi voz.”
“y yo para ver si les hago pensar.”
“Yo canto porque quiero un mundo feliz.”
“y yo por si alguien me quiere escuchar.”


Google Translation to English:

Let the children sing, let them raise their voices,
That make the world listen;
May they unite their voices and reach the sun;
In them is the truth.
Let the children who live in peace sing
And those who suffer pain;
Sing for those who do not sing
Because they have turned off their voice…
“I sing for them to let me live.”
“I sing so that mom smiles.”
“I sing for it to be the blue sky.”
“And I so that they do not litter the sea.”
“I sing for those who have no bread.”
“I sing to respect the flower.”
“I sing because the world is happy.”
“I sing not to hear the canon.”

Repeat first part…

“I sing for the garden to be green.”
“And I so that they do not extinguish the sun.”
“I sing for the one who can not write.”
“And I for the one who writes verses of Love.”
“I sing for my voice to be heard.”
“And I to see if I make them think.”
“I sing because I want a happy world.”
“And if anyone wants to listen to me.”

The El Viento classroom taught this song to the children in José Martí Childhood Development Center so that they could perform to the elders of our senior program. The children learned a new song to interact and bring joy to the seniors in our program. In doing so, they incorporated what is going on now in our nation.

Carmen Miranda showed the class a picture of the young boy crying for his mother in a cage. She brought out the photo to demonstrate why it was so important for them to sing and raise their voice to the world.

There are many reasons to sing: sing for the children who suffer from the pain of being ripped from their parent’s arms, sing to bring hope, and sing so that people can hear you. The performance and story were impactful, and the children were able to associate their act of singing as a way to fight injustice. In essence, the teachers of El Viento classroom were teaching our next generation how to have a voice when faced with horrible injustices in our society. We don’t need to sit back and do nothing when we see injustice. We can sing; we can use our voice to stand up against injustice.

Chris’ Story

Chris Lally faced one barrier that stood in the way of his aspiration of becoming a restaurant owner. He had the passion, skills, and experience. He worked as a chef in restaurants across the country and globe. However, investing in a restaurant came at a steep cost.

The turning point was when Chris found the Business Opportunity Center (BOC) at El Centro de la Raza. He soon realized there was another path to becoming the entrepreneur of which he always dreamt. Chris attributes part of his success to the BOC’s Food Cart Vendor program, “Getting the help was really important to get to the finish line.”

His drive combined with the resources available at BOC made him an unstoppable force. He continued to build out his dream and secured funding along the way. When the time came a to roll out his vision, Outsider Pizza was born, and it was a success.

Throughout Chris’ entrepreneurial journey, he embodied perseverance. Dreams do come true. If you have the opportunity, come by Plaza Roberto Maestas to see Chris and grab a slice or two of pizza.


Ruben’s Story

Ruben was born with a cleft palate and a hand deformity. He had previously been referred to and was attending a program for students with special needs, but his parents felt that he was not being challenged intellectually since most of his peers had varying levels of developmental disabilities.

A family friend mentioned their positive experience at El Centro de la Raza, so the family applied and Ruben qualified for the free part-day ECEAP program. He started in the José Martí Child Development Center in September 2017.

When Ruben first started at the age of 3, he was very shy and introverted, cried frequently, and he didn’t want to try anything by himself. After observing Ruben, the teachers developed an Individual Learning Plan and encouraged his social-emotional development through culturally-relevant activities in his first language (Spanish). As his self-esteem grew, Ruben became more confident in his abilities and self-help skills, such as using the bathroom on his own, and the social emotional support really helped Ruben develop the confidence needed to grow in other areas of development.

Now, after seven months in the program, Ruben happily participates in class, socializes with his peers and shows initiative in trying and completing different activities. He practices fine motor activities and is able to write his own name and cut different shapes with scissors. Ruben loves to sing and dance; and after an operation on his tongue, his language abilities continue to advance as he pronounces sounds well for his age level and uses increasingly complex sentences.

Ruben’s parents are also very happy with the changes they have seen in their child. They support his development at home by providing him with puzzles and other challenging activities, and they encourage his independence and confidence to complete tasks on his own.

Ruben continues to receive physical therapy, so in conjunction with our dual-language, culturally appropriate curriculum, Ruben is supported in all areas of development, and after the second developmental assessment of this school year (one more to go), Ruben has already made significant growth and/or is meeting widely-held expectations for his age group in almost all areas of development. Ruben has one more year of preschool before kindergarten, but at the rate he’s going, Ruben is on track for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Sabor Delicioso’s Story

When two people have a passion for cooking, they start their own business. That was what LuLu and Hilda did. They have always wanted a food establishment to call their own. To learn what it would take to become successful owners, they turned to the Business Opportunity Center at El Centro de la Raza.

The Business Opportunity Center (BOC) introduced the concept of a food cart to LuLu and Hilda. Without a formal foundation of building a business, the BOC guided them through the grueling application process of applying for a permit. Some time after submitting their comprehensive blueprint design to the City of Seattle’s Health Department, LuLu and Hilda started their business on April 1, 2018.

However, the endeavor of LuLu and Hilda was not without sacrifices. While their pursuing a food business has opened doors for them, they are challenged by striking a balance between working and spending time with family during the evenings. When inquired about other adversities, they shared a look of mutual respect for overcoming unseen challenges as a team: from responding to public demand and competition from other cart vendors, to abiding by the Department of Health’s guidelines, to tracking their operating costs, and to facing the exposure of Seattle’s weather conditions.

In spite of those trials and tribulations, for the first time in a long time, LuLu and Hilda feel like they are investing in their economic access, opportunity, and stability; but more importantly, in themselves. They feel proud to be contributing back to their households and having their families’ unwavering support. Along the way, they also grew more confident in their use of technology to promote their business.

When asked what is next for them, their eyes glowed, and they said with dignity: a restaurant. (Currently, they offer catering services.) For now, stop by their food cart at Plaza Roberto Maestas and get your fill of Mexican street food. They make their dishes from scratch, including the popular huarache and nachos dishes (for $8!). When you support people like LuLu and Hilda, you are also touching the lives of their families.

Check them out on Uber Eats and Facebook!