Law & Justice

LatinoJustice Legacy Tour Stops in New Jersey

Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Luis Diaz, Larry Lustberg (Gibbons PC)
Sandro Ocasio (Gibbons PC), Emilia Perez (City of Newark Law Dep’t)
Cid Wilson and Matt Schwartz. Board Members, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Jerard Gonzalez, Franklin Soto (both of Bastarrika, Soto, Gonzalez & Samohano), Marco Gonzalez (Duane Morris), Bill Ferreira (Ferreira & Herbert)

NEWARK, NJ - More than 60 supporters, friends and fans of LatinoJustice PRLDEF attended Thursday evening’s Newark, New Jersey stop of the organization’s 40th Anniversary Legacy Tour. The organization has held events during the past year in some of the cities where it has won major legal victories for the Latino community.

Hosted at the Newark offices of Gibbons P.C., LatinoJustice PRLDEF President and General Counsel Juan Cartagena welcomed a supportive crowd enthusiastic about the group’s legacy, its work and its future.

To date, approximately 300 supporters have attended Legacy Tour stops in New York City, Orlando, Hartford and Newark. Legacy Tour stops in Miami and Philadelphia are in the planning stages. The crowds have been filled not only with supporters, but also with many alumna who either interned at LatinoJustice, worked for the organization or graduated through its education program.

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“These tour stops continue to illustrate to us the wide breath of influence this organization has had not only on the civil rights of our community, but on the legal profession,” said Cartagena, who himself worked as a young lawyer for LatinoJustice almost 30 years ago. “A lot has changed since this organization started 40 years ago, but what has not changed is our mission and our commitment to the civil rights of our community and our need to foster more Latino lawyers and leaders.”

Gaining more equitable treatment for Puerto Ricans and Latinos was one of the goals that brought three young Puerto Rican attorneys from New York together in 1972. Jorge Batista, Victor Marrero and Cesar A. Perales wanted to change the discriminatory practices they saw taking place in their communities, and they thought the best way to do that was through advocacy and litigation.

Inspired by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Perales, Batista and Marrero sought to create a similar organization that would protect the civil rights of Puerto Ricans. They received funding from the Ford foundation, and in 1972, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund opened its doors with an impressive collection of leaders on its founding Board of Directors including Jose Cabranes (later appointed as a federal appellate judge); John Carro (NY State appellate judge); Robert Abrams (later elected as NY State Attorney General); Robert Mogenthau (NY County District Attorney); Herman Badillo (first Puerto Rican elected to Congress); Geraldo Rivera (media personality); Nicholas Katzenbach (former U.S. Attorney General); William vanden Heuvel (later appointed U.S. Ambassador); and Jacob Javits (U.S. Senator).

Since that time, the organization has litigated hundreds of important cases throughout the United States. And its CAP program has hosted almost 7,000 young people interested in the law and leadership programs it offers.

The LatinoJustice PRLDEF Legacy tour winds up with stops in Miami and Philadelphia. The dates have not been set yet.

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