Progressives in North Texas are mourning the loss of one of the brightest activists that the area has ever known. Jesse Tafalla Jr., who was an omnipresent titan for many progressive causes, passed away earlier this month.
Tafalla was an active member in several organizations in North Texas. He was the President of LULAC 4871, the Rainbow Council, which was the first LGBTQ chapter within the storied civil rights organization. He was also a member of the Tejano Democrats and the Stonewall Democrats.
In addition to his political work, Tafalla was active in the North Texas arts scene. He was a board member at the Cara Mia Theater and was also appointed to serve on the Dallas County Historical Commission.
In many ways, Tafalla was carrying on the legacy of his parents: Jesse Tafalla Senior and Nellie Tafalla, who were instrumental in establishing many Latino cultural places throughout North Texas. Before he passed away, Jesse Tafalla Senior was critical in starting the Dallas Mexican American Historical League. He was also a key proponent of the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas.
Many local officials including County Commissioner Elba Garcia, State Rep. Victoria Neave Criado and State Rep. Venton Jones expressed their condolences. Jones issued a statement on Twitter about his constituent. “Today we mourn the loss of a true champion of equality, but we also celebrate the lasting legacy of Jesse’s work and his profound influence on our community,” he wrote.
On social media, Tafalla was often known for saying he owed somebody a drink. The Signal reached out to Ramiro Luna, the Executive Director of Somos Tejas for his remembrance of a mentor and colleague.
“Jesse’s legacy embodies joy, advocacy, and a heartfelt question: ‘Don’t I owe you a drink?’ His vibrant spirit continues to inspire us to celebrate life’s moments while fighting for equality. With deep admiration, we raise a glass to honor Jesse, a radiant force and unwavering champion of civil rights and the Latine community.”
Photo courtesy of LULAC
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