Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García Remembers María Cerda

November 12, 2020
Press Release
“The education community and Latino families in our city owe a debt of gratitude to María”

Chicago, IL - Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) issued the following statement regarding the passing of Chicago education activist and public servant María B. Cerda: 

“We owe a debt of gratitude to María Cerda, a pioneer and trailblazer for the Latino community, and celebrate her achievements and life. As the first Puerto Rican woman, and first Latina appointed to the Chicago Board of Education, Cerda was a pioneer in confronting and addressing educational inequalities affecting the Latino community.  Through her work, Cerda secured funding for bilingual education programs and culturally responsive curricula.

“Maria Cerda went on to co-found the Latino Institute, whose research has been instrumental in understanding the economic conditions and political potential of the Latino community in Chicago. Cerda’s groundbreaking research garnered national attention and she was later appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the National Council on Educational Research.

In the 1980’s Mayor Harold Washington appointed María to head the Office of Employment and Training to oversee federal job training programs. In that capacity, Cerda secured funding to help underserved communities gain new skills and find jobs. 

“While her professional accomplishments are well known, the role she played in turning Chicago into a sanctuary city also deserves recognition.  Maria was once accosted by immigration agents in a clear case of racial profiling. The incident prompted Mayor Washington to issue the nation’s first ordinance preventing the city from providing information, collaborating, or allowing city facilities or property to be used by immigration authorities.  

“We celebrate María Cerda for her enduring commitment to educational and economic equity in Chicago and America. My wife Evelyn and I will be keeping her husband Judge David Cerda, her children, and grandchildren in our prayers.”