ANNOUNCED HER RETIREMENT FROM NEWSED
Verónica Barela announced she is retiring from NEWSED at the end of 2017. This successful executive has led NEWSED for the past 40 years. She made the announcement at the Civil Rights Award Ceremony, an award the organization has celebrated for the past 26 years. According to Barela, it is fundamental to preserve all legislation and mobilization supporting civil rights that has risen in the past 5 decades. She believes it is necessary to draw new strategies to prevent any attempt to destroy the existing Civil Rights protections.
Barela has been a warrior committed to social causes in America. “The civil rights movement is more than a historical event worthy of reflection. It is an ever-present reminder of the strength and influences that our collective humanity creates in times of uncertainty and injustices in which we live,” she said. She was emphatic to state that the current president “has opened up race hatred we have not seen in decades.”
She knows all too well what she is talking about regarding Civil Rights. In interview with El Comercio de Colorado in 2013, Barela shared the story of how she got involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963, while a student at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), in Greeley, she joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). This decision made her leave the school’s dorm, as many of her peers stopped talking to her. Her first action was against George Lincoln Rockwell, the president of the American Nazi Party. This individual was invited to speak at the school and Barela, with other 7 students went to protest at the event. While Rockwell was calling for the genocide of Jews and Native Americans, and the deportation of African Americans and Mexicans, she and the other students were walking around with signs.
“The audience of students exalted and cheered this white supremacist, but we kept our picket signs in the air and did not back down. I was really frightened as I comprehended and realized the racism that permeated the campus,” she remembers.
There is hope
Months after, CORE invited John Howard Griffin, author of the book “Black Like Me”, bestseller in 1961. She helped organize the event and that ignited her hope that the Civil Rights Movement was making progress throughout the country. “We had a great turnaround with Griffin and many students came together and holding our hands we sang “We Shall Overcome.” It is clear that her passion for Civil Rights had kicked in.
That passion remains alive, 54 years after the Greeley incident. She is still clear about the actions that need to be taken to safeguard the progress that has been made in the American society during the last half century. She sees as fundamental the protection of young Dreamers, and to achieve immigration reform. With her eyes on the future, Barela closed the Civil Rights Awards ceremony inviting all the attendees to hold hands and sing “We Shall Overcome” one more time.
She is not sure what she will do with her free time starting in 2018. “Have not really thought about it, probably relax for a while and decide what I want to do”, she explained. But she has enough reasons to feel accomplished after all the work she has done for the community. Her initiatives helped thousands of small entrepreneurs and families to prosper. NEWSED has developed 700,000 sq. ft. of both retail and housing; and has built or rehabilitated over 250 units of housing.
The accomplishments of Veronica Barela as manager of NEWSED are visible.
Cinco de Mayo Festival
This event has become one of the largest Mexican patriotic celebrations in the U.S. It gives Hispanics in Colorado the opportunity to showcase and share their culture and gastronomy with the multiethnic community of Colorado.
NEWSED has lead initiatives that allowed more than 2,200 families to buy their own homes. Also, hundreds of small businesses gained access to commercial space in two medium-size and two small shopping centers.
Santa Fe Drive Art District
Thanks to Barela’s efforts, the Santa Fe Dr. was revamped. The area became the home of countless art galleries and an incubator for artists. At the same time, the urban improvements created opportunities for small businesses to flourish in the area.