The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia Libraries and the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and GALEO Latino Community Development Fund (LCDF) announce a statewide initiative to document the contributions the Latino and Hispanic communities have made to the landscape of modern Georgia politics. To ensure the most comprehensive documentation and accessibility of the political history of all of Georgia's citizens, the Russell Library and GALEO will work to identify and document people and organizations representing the interests of the Latino and Hispanic communities. This effort will preserve traditional records and manuscripts and capture oral histories with elected officials, activists, and business leaders.
The partners announced the project at GALEO's 2019 Hispanic Heritage Luncheon. "This partnership marks a milestone in meeting the Library's commitment to collect materials that comprehensively document the full spectrum of political life and public policy in Georgia," said Sheryl Vogt, director of Russell Library. "Our project also helps fulfill the University's mission to serve all the people of this state. Historical materials and memories from the Latino and Hispanic communities will be invaluable testimony to the achievements of these Georgians."
"Inclusion of the Latinx community and our work at GALEO & the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund into the archive demonstrates the growing influence and power of the Latinx electorate and our community in the future of our state. GALEO is proud to partner to ensure we archive our history for future generations of Georgians to learn about our community's growth and influence for generations to come," said Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO & the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund.
Gonzalez announced the donation of nine collections to the begin this new collaboration with the Russell Library: the papers of former state Senator Sam Zamarripa, longtime state Representative Pedro Marin, the first two Latina state Representatives Brenda Lopez and Deborah Gonzalez, four community leaders-Leonard Gomez, Jason Esteves, Evelyn "Mimi" Woodson, and Adela Yelton, and the organizational records of GALEO.
Sam Zamarripa is the first Hispanic to serve in the Georgia State Senate, representing the 36th District located in eastern Fulton County, Georgia. Mr. Zamarripa served two terms (2003-2006), representing the City of Atlanta, where he served as the Secretary of the State Economic Development Committee and member of the committees on Insurance, Science & Technology, and Transportation.
Rep. Pedro Marin, community organizer and leader, has served House District 96 in the Georgia General Assembly for the past seventeen years. He currently serves on the House Banks & Banking, Economic Development & Tourism, Industry & Labor, and Science & Technology Committees. Rep. Marin possesses over 35 years of executive experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors plus 17 years as the first Hispanic in the Georgia House.
Along with DeKalb County Judge Tony del Campo, Zamarripa and Marin developed and founded GALEO in November 2003. A nonpartisan nonprofit, GALEO's mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino and Hispanic communities across Georgia. GALEO LCDF was established subsequently as a charitable nonprofit and nonpartisan organization to promote engagement of the Latino and immigrant communities on issues that matter to them.
Brenda Lopez made history in 2016 when she became the first Latina elected to the Georgia General Assembly, representing House District 99 in Gwinnett County. She sits on the education, retirement, and state planning & community affairs committees. She served as Vice Chair of DPG Latinx Caucus and on the House Democratic Caucus Policy Committee. An attorney, Lopez has over 15 years of law and policy experience related to immigration and nationality law and its intersectionality with constitutional rights, human rights, civil rights, voting rights, and racial and economic justice.
Deborah Gonzalez became the second Latina in the Georgia General Assembly through a special election for HD117 in November 2017. Her legislative work included protection of children (health, education), working families (livable wages, non-discrimination), and victims of sexual harassment, domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Gonzalez is currently a candidate for District Attorney - GA Western Judicial Circuit (Athens-Clarke & Oconee Counties).
In 2015, Leonard Gomez was elected by the Grantville City Council to serve as Mayor Pro-Tem. This election makes Leonard Gomez the first Latino to serve in that capacity in the state of Georgia. Previously, Leonard served two years as the City of Grantville's City Council Member representing Post 4 Coweta County. He cites his involvement with the GALEO Institute for Leadership as the motivation that led him to seek an elected position. He narrowly lost election, in 2018, to the Georgia House of Representatives to represent District 132.
Jason Esteves, an attorney and former educator, serves as Assistant General Counsel at Equifax Inc., where he manages litigation matters for the company. Esteves currently serves as Board Chair and an at-large representative on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education. Elected in 2013, he has focused his efforts at promoting equity and improving the financial outlook of the school system.
Columbus, Georgia, City Councilor Evelyn "Mimi" Woodson, a retired U.S. Army veteran, recently won her 6th term to represent District 7. Elected in 1994, Woodson was the city's first Hispanic councilor, and is now the longest serving Hispanic elected representative in the state. Woodson is a customer service supervisor at Total System Services (TSYS) in Columbus. She was recognized by the Georgia House of Representatives as an active member of 20 civic organizations that benefit from her extraordinary commitment to her community and to public service.
Adela Yelton, elected in 2015 to the Avondale Estates Board of Mayor and Commissioners, served for four years. While on the board, she helped launch an education committee to attempt closing the gap between the city and the DeKalb County school system. Yelton has a corporate career of 15 years in tax and human resources. She is also one of the original eight founding members of The Museum School of Avondale Estates, which opened in 2010.
Founded in 1974, the Russell Library serves as a center for research and study of the modern American political system, with particular emphasis on the role of Georgia and the U. S. Congress. Nearly five hundred collections and over a thousand oral histories concentrate not only on those who represent, persuade, or observe the political and public policy arena but also on the grassroots and civic groups that foment or nurture new ideas, workers, and leaders. The breadth and depth of the Library's collections provide an interconnected framework of perspectives and experiences for understanding the increasingly diverse people, events, and ideas shaping Georgia's modern political landscape. For more information on the Russell Library, see http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell