The 4Ward Miami held the 2019 Pa’Lante awards at the Bacardi Headquarters in Coral Gables on Feb. 13. The event honored individuals that are making great strides and contributions to organizing and engaging grassroots efforts.
Former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) was given a special award and presentation from newly Rep. Donna Shalala, who was elected to Ros-Lehtinen’s seat after she decided to retire last year. Shalala was unable to attend, but sent in a video.
Also honored at the event was former state house Rep.David Richardson. Richardson also happened to run against Shalala in the democratic primary for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat.
“It is my great honor to present this award, to someone who I consider a friend, to someone who I look up to greatly and that is State house Representative David Richardson,” said Chair of 4Ward, Damian Pardo. “He is literally at every event, he has many firsts. He is the first openly gay state representative in Florida, but his greatest achievement is his ability to work across the aisle. He makes strategic collaborations, which so few people do. He ran an unbelievable grassroots campaign and activism that I have never seen or heard of before.”
Richardson joked asking if Shalala had prepared a video for him as well.
“Thank you all. I remember a few short years ago that they invited me for lunch in Little Havana, and told me about their idea to have this street festival and of course I was representing Little Havana at the time so of course I wanted to support them on their endeavor. Now it’s grown into the largest LGBTQ Latino festival in the entire country. We should really be giving it up to these two guys!”
Activist and freelance journalist Lynare Robbins presented a special award to SAVE.
“To the staff members, Alex and Tommy, thank you so much for your endless hard work. And for Tony to his leadership and his perseverance,” Robbins said. “This past election cycle was so important, and SAVE with their leadership made an extra commitment to civic grassroots efforts. They did an amazing job canvassing for the candidates and conducted a ‘get out to vote’ campaign throughout all the clubs, bars, restaurants and establishments in Wynwood, Wilton Manors and South Beach. Thank you all for that.”
SAVE is one of the few organizations that focuses on a grassroots approach.
Jonathan Casanas introduced and presented an award to Bella Dunbar. “She attended Gay8 a few years ago, and not really realizing what was in store for her. She didn’t necessarily find herself, but was more able to be truly herself.”
Casanas dove into an anecdote about Dunbar, “We should have moms with t-shirts that say “Free Hugs” and it turned out to be one of the most amazing things about the festival. That very next day, she had a group of moms ready to volunteer their time and t-shirts were being made.”