The late Adelfa Callejo was a Dallas legend

Once upon a time, liberals and conservatives could sit down, disagree and still walk away with a smile.  Unfortunately, our politics today is so toxic that it's tough to discuss politics without people calling you a racist or something else.

Back in 1984, I met Adelfa Callejo at a Hispanic political meeting in Dallas.  We had a very pleasant chat and I came to admire her life story and work in the area.  I found that she could disagree with people without being disagreeable.

We learned that Adelfa Callejo died. She was 90 and suffering from cancer, according to a front page story in The Dallas Morning News:

"Callejo eventually became a bilingual secretary by day and an SMU student by night.  

For a time, she lived in California.

There, she began an export-import business and found herself competing against a New Yorker with a Puerto Rican background.

Within a year, Adelfa Botello married Bill Callejo. 

The couple lived for a year in Mexico City, but Callejo declared herself "too American" for Mexican sexism.

The Callejos moved to Troy, N.Y., where Adelfa worked three jobs to put her husband through college.

By 1952, they were back in Dallas - and she was back in SMU night classes. 

A decade later, after both had their law degrees, her activism took off at the firm of Callejo & Callejo.  

In 1973, she took part in protests against the killing of Santos Rodriguez, a 12-year-old boy shot in a squad car by a Dallas police officer.  

In 1982, she organized and led hundreds of demonstrators through downtown Dallas to protest deportations by immigration agents in Oak Cliff. Several U.S. citizen-children were left with no parent present. She filed a lawsuit to prevent family breakups.  

In the late 1980s, she warred with others for political power-sharing in Dallas, helping to bring about the city's first single-member council districts. Later, those districts launched the careers of many black and Hispanic politicians. 

In the 1990s, battles with the Dallas school district were frequent. Callejo said she was determined to push for bilingual education because of her mother, a Spanish-speaker with a fine mind but no teachers to teach her English. Her mother, she said, left school after third grade knowing only 20 words in English."

Mrs Callejo's life story is so inspirational.  She taught us that you could disagree with people without hating them or being disagreeable. 

RIP Mrs Callejo.  You left your mark in our area and we are grateful for that.

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.

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