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Statue Of Latina Activist Adelfa Callejo May Have Finally Found A Home 35

The bronze statue honoring Adelfa Callejo may finally have a home at Main Street Garden park in Dallas, despite recent contention regarding the sculpture’s placement in the city.

Callejo died in 2014 after fighting brain cancer. She was believed to be the first practicing Latina lawyer in Dallas, and was known as a prominent leader in the Hispanic community who advocated for increased representation of Latinos in elected positions, immigrant rights and greater educational opportunities for Hispanic children.

Diana Orozco-Garrett and Adelfa Callejo

Diana Orozco-Garrett (right) provided this photo. She was 12 when she decided she wanted to become a lawyer after seeing Adelfa Callejo speak at a protest.

This week, the city’s Quality of Life, Arts and Culture Committee approved a new location for the statue at Main Street Garden park, next to the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law and the municipal court building. The city council will vote on the statue and new location Feb. 12.

“We would love for her statue to be in a prominent location like Main Street Garden, across from UNT Law School, which is the only public law school in the city of Dallas,” Monica Lira Bravo, chairwoman of the Botello-Callejo Foundation Board, said at the committee meeting. “I think that would be an adequate, perfect, highly visible location for her.”

Adelfa Callejo became the first Hispanic woman to graduate from SMU Law School in 1961. Photo courtesy of John David Gonzales, Callejo’s nephew.

The $100,000 sculpture was created by Mexican artist German Michel, who was commissioned by the Botello-Callejo Foundation Board.

Callejo’s statue was initially expected to be placed at Dallas Love Field Airport, which hosts millions of travelers each year. However, the original plans were stalled after Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano moved to delay the statue’s placement in the lobby of Love Field Airport, which is in the district he represents.

Lira Bravo described her reaction to the news as “dumbfounded” and “blindsided,” according to The Dallas Morning News.

“We went in there confident that it would be an easy pass on the consent agenda,” she told the Dallas Morning News in November 2019. “We were taken very much by surprise.”

callejo bronze statue

The bronze statue honoring Adelfa Callejo. Photo courtesy of John David Gonzales.

Though Callejo is widely viewed as a prolific activist, some consider her a controversial figure. She drew national attention for her February 2018 remarks about then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.

When asked whether Obama would win the Hispanic vote, she responded “Obama simply has a problem, that he happens to be black.” Callejo supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. She later supported Obama after he received the nomination.

Callejo attended segregated schools in Millet, Texas and graduated at the top of her high school class. She was the first Latina to graduate from SMU’s School of Law. In 2013, an elementary school was named in Callejo’s honor. She was also named a Texas Legal Legend by the University of North Texas School of Law after her death.

The Dallas Hispanic Bar Association wrote in her memoriam, “She advocated tirelessly for changes intended to give Hispanics the tools needed to lift ourselves up and succeed. She laid the foundation for many of us to achieve.”