Alma Delia Gamez -- 1959-2006

This past month, on January 8, a good friend of mine -- I am Godfather to her daughters -- passed away from complications due to stomach cancer. Alma Delia Gamez was only 46 years old. Yet she had been a fighter for the rights of migrant workers, the working class, and other oppressed peoples all her life. Her mother, Trini Gamez, has been a community leader in the Hereford, Texas community (and the Texas panhandle and other parts of the Southwest) for decades.

Delia became involved with the Texas Farmworkers Union as a teenager. In 1979, Delia moved to Chicago and became active with the Illinois Migrant Council. She later became an organizer in the highly diverse, mostly immigrant Chicago community of Rogers Park. In 1996, she returned to Texas where she remained active until the final stages of her illness.

She leaves two wonderful daughters, Janelle and Micaela, now young women and activists in their own right. I also recall how Delia helped my son, Ramiro, and daughter, Andrea, when they were both troubled teens in Chicago during the early 1990s. Ramiro, who's now 30 and incarcerated in Logan Prison in Illinois, wrote this about Delia:

It truly saddens me to learn that Delia has passed away. When hearing of this, the many memories I shared with her flashed before my eyes. My sister and I had an opportunity to be part of her life when we were in the Rogers Park Youth Congress. Delia had brought together many youth and elders to help form this organization when she was working with the Jewish Council for Urban Affairs. It was a great experience. The meetings at her house were great events. Eveyone there were like family. There was music, poetry, laughter, and lots of food (for me, that was my favorite part!). Delia had a loving heart and compassionate spirit. Especially when it came to her girls, Janelle and Micaela. She loved them so much and tried to keep them involved in all the positive things she was doing.

I can honestly say I'm a better person having known Delia. I learned a lot from her. She helped me to see that I had the potential to be a leader and the willingness to help others, even when it came to helping my "enemies." Delia was devoted and dedicated in helping the youth. And even when she moved back to Texas, I know that devotion and dedication stayed in her heart, that her revolutionary spirit filled her soul. She was a mother to us all.

I'm sorry I couldn't be there by Delia's side during her sickness. But I know she will stay by mine to help guide me, enlighten me, and to help me stay strong in being a better father to my children. I know her spirit will always be with me.

Mexika Tiahui,


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