created memory in Roberto Maestas
Roberto was a man of distinction..he led the way for many in Wa State and gave unconditionally of himself to the cause...my family (Denver, Colo.) was heavily involved in the cause La Raza...The Revolution....long live the leaders for brown skin...and what they stand for...we all know what we mean by that...never give up The Peoples Rights and their commonalities in life..
I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS ONLY IN HIGH SCHOOL I MOVED TO SEATTLE. I WENT WHERE THE ACTION WAS THE INDIAN CENTER THAT COMBINED WITH EL CENTRO BUT I DIDNT KNOW I WAS GOING TO A MEXICAN DANCE YA IT WAS FUN BUT NO WAY COULD DANCE LIKE THAT LOL. AND THE TIME YOU CAME TO TAHOLAH AND I MADE YOU MY CLAM CHOWDER AND YOU WERE KIND EVEN IF I FORGOT THE BACON. OH HOW I WILL MISS YOU YOU WILL ALWAYS BE IN THE NATIVES HEARTS LOVE YOU BRO.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have traveled through decades of Seattle's history at the same time as Roberto. My first meetings with him were in the 70's when he lobbied Model Cites and Seattle's DHR for funding for community programs. I learned from his humor and heartfelt advocacy. I learned from his courage. He changed the stereotypes and became part of the soul of the establishment community he challenged. I remember him holding my new daughter and laughing with delight. I remember him laughing in committee meetings and at rallies; his humor punctuating passionate speeches of liberation and equality. I remember him laughing and talking to the crowd last year as the YMCA honored him and his legacy with the AK Guy award. I am grateful we came together to honor him when he was still here and able to bask in the admiration, love and gratitude of the City he served.
Seattle and the world lost a great leader on September 22. I was fortunate to get to know Roberto a little bit as I wandered the hallways of El Centro de la Raza, where CommunChi has lived these past nearly four years. I'm guessing Roberto had many thousands of amigos. That was his nature - humble and outgoing. Helping people was his business, so naturally, he talked to anyone whose world even remotely touched his orbit.
On one of our last conversations, he shared with me how he remembered being a teacher at Franklin High School the day after Dr. King was killed. The heaviness in the classroom was palpable that morning and one boy finally broke the silence, voicing the grief that everyone felt. "Mr. Maestas, why?" Roberto said there was a long silence after the boy spoke, and that was one of the most difficult moments of his life, finding the words to answer his question.
"What did you say?", I asked him. "I just did my best", Roberto said, "people always need hope for a better world." May we all follow in Roberto's compassionate footsteps.
I only knew Roberto for a little over a year but I consider myself very lucky to have met him. What a wonderful soul! His love for his family and all children was so open and genuine that I suspect he was child at heart himself. I will never forget the delight he took in playing a few games of vintage pinball in my basement this summer, talking all the while about the hours he spent playing those games in his younger years. Roberto will be missed by all he touched, and few of us can say we've touched more people in our lifetimes.
Just leaving a note of sympathy and respect for Mr. Maestas. A big inspiration and a pivotal individual not only for Seattle but for the region. His efforts and advocacy for others touched many people, many lives and many communities.
Roberto meant so much to all of us. His passion, love and energy to bring justice to all of our people will never be forgotten. Thank you for sharing his brilliance with our community. His love of people will always shine in our hearts. Our love and prayers are with you and your family. Always.
Helena Grant Stephens
I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers as you mourn the loss of one so dear as Roberto. I am honored to have known him, and Seattle is a better place for his having been here to contribute so greatly to our community. On a very personal note, I am glad that our sons, Alec III and Michael (now grown) are among the many youngsters who got their pre-school foundation at Jose Marti Child Development Center. Peace & Love.
Every time he saw me, he shook my hand and then turned to my daughter Marina whether 4, 5, 6 or 7 years of age Roberto will always say while grabbing her cheek and looking at her; "Mira que chulada, como estas?" Then Marina would turn to him and reply: "Muy bien" Then Roberto will give her a hug. The last time we saw him was when Martin Espada read at El Centro. I miss him, his voice, his straightforwardness, his sincerity and siempre caval y firme!
Here is a very humble tribute to him, Don Roberto a great example.
Roberto Es El Centro
Echoes through hallways
El Centro, in the center
Building bridges, smiling
Shaking hands, shaking spirits
His presence demands respect
He owned his struggle
Civil rights fighter
He loved the earth
Alone in the world
The dust of Saint Augustine
Himself a migrant farm worker
Dug his hands
In this warm earth
Your example lives
La Lucha Sigue
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