Rest in Peace, Brother Roberto

Roberto Maestas passed away this morning, one of the few times in his long career as a community leader and activist for social change that he fought a losing battle.

Maestas was founder of El Centro de la Raza and a lifelong leader of the multicultural civil rights movement in the Northwest.

“He was a tremendous fighter for social justice and truly a great friend,” said Frank Chopp, Washington State Speaker of the House, who worked closely with Maestas through his long-time role as Executive Director of Fremont Public Association (which became Solid Ground).

Maestas’ passing marks the second death among the Gang of Four, a powerful alliance of Maestas, Bob Santos, Bernie Whitebear and Larry Gossett that brought together Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, Native American and African-American communities to work for civil rights and social justice for all people. Among their many achievements was the formation in 1981 of the Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County, which supports and nurtures people of color in non-profit leadership. Whitebear passed away in 2000.

This painting by Al Doggett shows the Gang of Four: Bernie Whitebear, Larry Gossett, Roberto Maestas and Bob Santos

The Gang of Four were honored as Local Heroes by Solid Ground in 2004. The painting by local artist Al Doggett shown here hangs in our lobby, along with a plaque that recognizes these four unique men for “their charismatic leadership and achievements in building multicultural alliance in King County, for their community activism work to undo racism and support equal rights and leadership of non-profit organizations…”

Godspeed, Roberto. Your impact has been great and good. You will be missed.

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