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2019 NEWSED Civil Rights Awards
La Voz Staff Photo

By Joseph Rios

On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a Gay club resting in Greenwich Village in New York City. Police forced employees and customers out of the bar leading to what is now known as the Stonewall Riots. In New York City, same-sex relations were illegal at the time. The raids led to six days of protests and violent encounters with law enforcement outside the bar. The riots are what propelled the gay rights movement in the United States.

“It’s important to remember those things and honor it. When we start forgetting, then we go into reverse, and that’s what we’re starting to see, I think, in this country,” said Andrea Barela, president and CEO of NEWSED Community Development Corporation.

Each year NEWSED Community Development Corporation hosts its “Civil Rights Awards,” an event that honors those who have made an impact in the community. This year, NEWSED Community Development Corporation’s Awards will be in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The awards will center around those who have made an impact in the LGBTQ community.

“It’s a way to celebrate accomplishments that people are reaching now, but also to remember the struggles that people have gone through to get us to where we are. (The LGBTQ community) have definitely been under attack with this administration, and it’s pretty horrific what’s happening now,” said Barela.

Here are this year’s NEWSED Community Development Corporation Civil Rights Awards winners.

Denver PrideFest

Each year in downtown Denver, the largest regional celebration of LGBTQ pride takes place. Denver PrideFest started in 1976 and encourages the LGBTQ community to celebrate who they are. Over a half million people attend each year.

Kalyn Rose Heffernan

Heffernan led a campaign for the mayor seat this year. She is the first candidate who is disabled and queer to run for mayor in the city. She has spent a lifetime advocating for people who live in marginalized communities.

Michael Sawaya

You might know him from the commercials, but Sawaya has been a strong supporter of causes for the LGBTQ community. He has spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of people and is a member of the Latino Giving Circle.

Leslie Herod

Herod became the first LGBTQ African American in the General Assembly in 2016. She has worked on numerous things including giving every Colorado newborn a $100 college kickstarter account, requiring that county jails provide free tampons and other hygiene products and has restored voting rights for over 11,000 Coloradans.

Transformative Freedom Fund

The Transformative Freedom Fund works to remove financial barriers for transition related healthcare for those who identify as being transgender. The group has been together since 2017 and have helped fund a total of 17 people.





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