On Saturday, June 18, 2011 in the midst of preparation for the Puerto Rican festivities, including the downtown parade and the Puerto Rican People’s Parade, a select group of Puerto Rican leaders where invited by Senator Durbin, through the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, to join him in welcoming Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to Chicago.
Senator Durbin had extended an invitation to the Justice – the first Puerto Rican and first Latina to serve on the US Supreme Court- to join him for a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees.
Among those leaders where Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward), Marvin García, member of the Board of Trustees Northeastern Illinois University, Verónica Ocasio, Operations Director Bickerdike Corp, Paul Roldán, CEO of Hispanic Housing, José Rodríguez, CEO of Aspira, IL., Mr. & Mrs. Fernando Grillo, President of Board of Director of Aspira of Illinois, Dr. Lizzette Richardson, Associate Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, Matthew Rodríguez, Principal Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos H.S., Juan Calderón, Program Director of Vida/SIDA and José E. López Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.
On behalf of the Puerto Rican community José E. López presented the Justice with a gift basket containing artisanry, artifacts, films, and books of Puerto Ricans in Chicago.
The following is an personal account of that historic visit with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, by M. Lizzette Richardson, Associate Vice Chancellor for the City Colleges of Chicago.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor came accompanied by Judge Ann Williams from the federal bench. Judge Williams and I serve on the board of the Just the Beginning Foundation which seeks to increase access of minority students to law school.
This was the highlight of my summer! How often do you get the opportunity to meet a Supreme Court Justice and a Puerto Rican at that? A humbling experience indeed. She came in, greeted and spoke to each one of us individually, taking her time in a very personal way. Imagine a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx, humble beginnings, entering law school, a field dominated by white males, serving with distinction and becoming a Supreme Court Judge? What an inspiration to all of us!
I took my Constitutional Law book from my days as a law school student hoping that she would sign it. After she finished talking to each of us, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center presented a gift basket filled with items made by the Puerto Rican community; she was thrilled. Then, Senator Durbin indicated that I had brought the Constitutional Law book for her signature. To my surprise, she signed it graciously! A gesture and memory that I will forever treasure.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Senator Durbin for inviting me to this memorable event. The memory will live with me forever.