White Dove Award Recipients 2018 – 31st annual Rice and Beans Gala

May 1, 2019

The 31st annual Rice and Beans Gala of the Rochester Committee on Latin America was held on March 22, 2018. Three most amazing individuals and groups were honored as White Dove recipients. We are pleased to share with you the award speeches from each of the recipients. Special thanks to Catherine Brownell for filming. Videos will be uploaded soon!

International Winners:

Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Bolivian indigenous Aymara activist, feminist and sociologist

ROCLA has chosen the extraordinary Bolivian activist, sociologist, and theorist, Silvia Natalia Rivera Cusicanqui, to share the 2019 International White Dove Award with James Jordan. Silvia self-identifies as a mestiza Aymara woman who fervently vindicates her indigenous Aymara side, making it her life’s work to reclaim her Aymara heritage and language. While Silvia has made her reputation as an academic and author (her best-known work is Oppressed But Not Defeated: Peasant Struggles Among the Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia, 1900-1980, and she is the previous director and longtime member of the Workshop on Andean Oral History), she has left academia to found an art and activism collective called Colectivx Ch’ixi that works with youth and rural communities in Bolivia to address issues of identity and self empowerment. Formed with 16 other social scientists in La Paz, members of the collective live based on the principles of indigenous cultures and alternative knowledge producers. The group implements urban agricultural production, champions indigenous practices, traditions, and rituals, and is working to revitalize Bolivian native people’s languages. The collective is additionally committed to raising consciousness about the harmful effects of many manufactured items, such as cosmetics and plastic bags – items that harm women and the environment in particular.

James Jordan, Alliance for Global Justice labor solidarity activist in Colombia

James Patrick Jordan, a National Co-Coordinator for the Alliance For Global Justice who directs its Labor and Colombia solidarity projects, is one of two outstanding activists for justice that will receive the International White Dove Award at ROCLA’ Rice & Beans Annual Gala Dinner + White Dove Awards. Jordan began his labor work in 2004, when he coordinated a coalition known as the Worker to Worker Solidarity Committee. In 2007, AfGJ hired him to continue his work with international unions and the committee became the Worker to Worker Solidarity Campaign. The campaign focused on direct relationships with international unions harmed by US government and transnational corporate policies and activities, which were not receiving sufficient support from US labor unions.

Local Winner:

Irene Sanchez, founder of Puertorriqueños en la Distancia, Rochester, NY

In recognition of Irene Sanchez’s amazing organizing and advocacy to assist Puerto Ricans who fled to Rochester after Hurricane Maria, ROCLA is proud to honor her with the 2019 Local White Dove Award at this year’s Rice & Beans Annual Gala Dinner + White Dove Awards. After Irene Sanchez moved from her home in Puerto Rico to Rochester in 2006 to learn English, her accomplishments seem to be never-ending: Irene has spent these years advocating for her community, pursuing a Masters degree, serving immigrants from many countries through the New York State Migrant Education Program, and now as Workplace Justice Program Director at the Worker Justice Center of New York. Since 2015 she has served as chair of the WNY Coalition of Farmworker Serving Agencies. In 2017, Irene founded Puertorriqueños Unidos en la Distancia, United in the Distance to serve the hundreds of displaced Puerto Rican families that moved to Rochester after the devastation caused in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. In a matter of months, PUR Unidos and its dedicated volunteers provided direct support to more than 150 Puerto Rican families on the Island and in Rochester, including raising funds for the community, training Rochester residents to help families with their interpretation needs, and helping new Puerto Rican residents register their children in schools, access social services, and find jobs. Irene and other PUR Unidos members are realizing their vision of empowering their displaced neighbors to improve their quality of life and achieve economic self-sufficiency.