Adelfa Botello Callejo, Dallas lawyer and immigrant rights pioneer, has died at the age of 90 according to the Dallas News.
Callejo was critical in the fight for immigrant rights especially those of Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans in her native Texas. In her lifetime she led numerous protests on behalf of immigration reform, police violence against Mexican-Americans and redistricting that did not allow Latino voters to be adequately represented.
Callejo was the first Latina to graduate from Southern Methodist Unversity’s (SMU) law school back in 1961. She was successful enough in business and law to eventually donate $1 million to SMU’s Dedman School of law. The school named its Latino Studies Institute in her honor calling it the ‘Adelfa Botello Callejo Leadership and Latino Studies Institute.’
Unable to find a law firm that would hire her, she started her own law firm in Dallas. The activist was born to a Mexican father who picked cotton while her Mexican-American mother worked the fields. She grew up in a small Texas town during a time when Latinos were segregated from the general population in terms of education and privileges – that never stopped her from protesting or succeeding. Callejo has been recognized, including receiving the Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award, for her tireless efforts toward eliminating racial barriers and improving the quality of education for Latinos.
Callejo served as president of the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas.
The immigrant activist battled both colon and breast cancer and most recently brain cancer. Ever the fighter she successfully fought one bout of brain cancer back in 2012. Callejo was recently told the brain cancer had returned and passed away this past Friday.