Felipe Chavana, Esq.,
Executive Director, Newark Legal Services
Felipe Chavana was born in New York City to a Mexican father and a Columbian mother and raised in the South Bronx. Mr. Chavana attended the City College of New York as a member of the SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge) Program for disadvantaged students. He then went on to complete his senior year at the University of Puerto Rico. After graduating, Mr. Chavana worked for two years as a public school teacher in New York City. At the urging of his friends and colleagues, Mr. Chavana enrolled in Rutgers Law School and obtained his JD. Mr. Chavana used his legal knowledge to aid the poor and disadvantaged through his work for Legal Services. In 1989, he became the Executive Director of the Essex-Newark Legal Services Program, continuing his work in providing legal aid to those in need.
Prepared by Elizabeth Parker, Associate Archivist.
Hear Felipe Chavana discuss bias and discrimination as they pertain to issues of class and ethnicity:
“[When speaking about bias and discrimination], I am addressing the political structure of the county… as well as the City of Newark… and the community. So, I just, I think that [the issue of bias and discrimination will] become… in the future… one of… class… instead of one of ethnicity; it’ll be one of class. And we see that with the immigrants. That, you know, discrimination will be against people who are–who have less economic means, who are more marginalized, as opposed to–it won’t be because they are Latinos. It’ll be because they are immigrants. It’ll be because they are poorer. It’ll be because they don’t have the language. It’ll be because they can’t defend themselves. It’ll be because they have a culture that is different; because, of course, as we become part of this environment, we still retain a semblance of our culture, but it’s a culture transformed. Where[as] recent immigrants have really the culture of their own country–[it] hasn’t yet been, been shaped and adjusted by what they are facing here.”
Text edited for clarity. For a full verbatim transcript of the quote, please see p. 17 of the complete interview transcript.
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