Service Employees International Union, New Jersey State Council
Lizette Delgado–Polanco was born in the Bronx, New York to Dominican parents. Her mother had been forced to leave the Dominican Republic in the 1960s because of her family’s participation in the resistance party, El Partido Revolucionario Dominicano. Ms. Delgado–Polanco moved to Hammonton, New Jersey as a young child and resided there with her aunt. When she was 13 her family was able to return to the Dominican Republic in 1980, where her grandfather was named the head of the Department of Agriculture. After graduating from high school in the Dominican Republic, Ms. Delgado–Polanco returned to the United States and settled in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After a wrongful termination, Ms. Delgado–Polanco became deeply involved with local unions, resulting in her working as a bilingual representative for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees [HERE], Local 54. Because of her work with unions, and their Hispanic members, Ms. Delgado–Polanco became involved with local and state wide politics, culminating in being named as Assistant Secretary of State in 2002. She was the first Latino to be named to this position. Currently, Ms. Delgado–Polanco is the executive director of the Service Employees International Union New Jersey State Council, which serves over 40,000 members in New Jersey. Ms Delgado–Polanco has also attended three Democratic National Conventions (2000, 2004, and 2012) as a delegate for the State of New Jersey.
Prepared by Elizabeth Parker, Associate Archivist.
Hear Lizette Delgado–Polanco discuss her experience as a delegate for the State of New Jersey at the 2012 Democratic National Convention hearing the keynote address of San Antonio Mayor, Julián Castro:
“[Julián Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas] made me so proud… I felt it was a very emotional speech [the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention], first of all just because his story reflects a lot of our Latinos’ stories where you have the strong grandmother. You know, just as his grandmother, my grandmother… had a third grade education. My mother maybe got to [the] seventh grade. So I can relate to what he was saying. But it was very important for them that we go to school and educate ourselves and really… [acknowledge] the sacrifices that we’ve made… [and] that they’ve made; that they can see it someday… in their children and grandchildren. And it made me a little bit sad when he said his grandmother who, you know, was… such a big influence in his life was not there to see… how great and successful him and his brother [Texas State Representative Joaquín Castro], or what great men they have become, because they are incredible young men. I just really felt like, for the first time [since] I’ve been a delegate–I was a delegate for Gore–Lieberman [at the 2000 Democratic National Convention], and I was a delegate for Kerry–Edwards [at the 2004 Democratic National Convention]–and this is the first convention I went to that I felt the Latino agenda was part, we were actually a part of the Democratic platform.”
Text edited for clarity. For a full verbatim transcript of the quote, please see pp. 32-33 of the complete interview transcript.
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