Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks tonight at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials' Edward Roybal Gala. Below are the Leader's remarks as prepared for delivery:
“In 1976, Congressman Edward Roybal truly altered the course of Congress and our nation by founding two organizations dedicated to the values of equality and fairness for Latinos and for all Americans: the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and NALEO.
“These institutions stand as monuments to Ed Roybal's success - as a pillar of the Latino community and a shining example of achievement for all Americans. Whether working with the United Farmworkers in California or chairing a subcommittee on Appropriations in Congress, Ed Roybal was always there for working families.
“I had the privilege of learning from him as he was my chairman on the Appropriations Committee, and I was honored to speak at his funeral. He served with strength, effectiveness, and great dignity.
“Today, his legacy lives on in the service and leadership of his daughter, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who shares his values and has made her own highly-respected mark in Congress.
“NALEO's ongoing work is a great tribute to Congressman Roybal's life and service: empowering Latinos to vote, to run for office, to serve at all levels of government.
“How proud he was to see the number of Latino voters and public officials growing every year. Today, NALEO's work has never been more critical - because, in empowering Latino voters and electing Latinos to office, NALEO will strengthen our democracy and change the face of our nation.
“Following in the footsteps of Congressman Roybal have been a generation of extraordinary men and women, including Lucille, who share his ideals and are committed to reigniting the American dream.
“Congressman Roybal was first in many respects. It is appropriate that this year's Edward R. Roybal Award for Outstanding Public Service goes to the first Latino Mayor of Los Angeles in modern times: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“Nearly seven years ago, the Mayor took office with a stirring call to action, inspiring his fellow Angelenos with a simple, yet moving, phrase: ‘dream with me, Los Angeles.'
“As many of us know, these words were only fitting - because his family has been a living example of the American dream.
“He is a child of L.A.'s public schools, who was driven to graduate and succeed by his English teacher. As the leader of the L.A. teachers' union, as Speaker of the Assembly, as a member of the City Council, and as Mayor, he has worked to help others realize their dreams.
“As Mayor, he has strengthened teachers and invested in classrooms so every student has a chance to thrive and made L.A.'s streets safer and its neighborhoods more secure. He has led the charge for a public transit network to connect L.A.'s diverse communities, working to secure critical investments with his 30-10 initiative, and he has fought to transform L.A. into the ‘cleanest, greenest big city in America.'
“He dreamt, like NALEO and Ed Roybal, of a city and a nation where every citizen can vote and every vote is counted - and he fought for that dream by marching for civil rights, by organizing union workers, by advancing our civil liberties.
“Mayor Villaraigosa's dreams for his city seem endless. And he is still asking all of us to dream with him - now as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he has received national recognition for his leadership.
“In that spirit - in the spirit of Congressman Roybal, the leaders of NALEO, and Latino elected officials across the country - let us all continue to dream big, to uphold the values of justice and opportunity, to advance the cause of equality, our heritage and our hope.
“Congratulations, Mr. Mayor, on tonight's honor. And thank you to NALEO for remaining a powerful voice on behalf of the Latino community and America's future.”