San Francisco State University College of Ethnic Studies
43rd Anniversary and Annual Program
2012 Exemplary Leadership Awards
The annual Exemplary Leadership Awards are given to individuals and organizations who embody the social justice values of the movements that gave birth to the College of Ethnic Studies, and who continue to serve our communities today.
Eric Quezada (1965-2011)
Born in Los Angeles, Eric Quezada moved to San Francisco in 1971 where his Guatemalan immigrant parents opened a bike shop in the city’s politically and culturally vibrant Mission District. He graduated from Chico State with a degree in Latin American Studies. Ever the organizer, Quezada spearheaded solidarity efforts in support of the UNRG in Guatemala, FMLN in El Salvador, and the Sandinistas of Nicaragua. Returning to his barrio after graduation, Quezada immersed himself in struggles for social justice, both in the city he loved and the wider world, becoming over the next twenty years both a well-respected community organizer and a visionary leader of the Bay Area Left.
Quezada tirelessly fought on behalf of oppressed and exploited communities, never failing to make the important connections between struggles as diverse as those centered around homelessness, immigration, education, environmental justice, labor, civil rights, and the LGBT community. He founded Mexicanos Sin Fronteras during the anti-immigrant hysteria of the 90s and, more recently, the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network. He founded the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition in the midst of the dot-com craze. Later, he organized local residents to create a community-driven development proposal known as the “People’s Plan.” He served on the Board of Directors of the Bernal Neighborhood Center and of the grassroots environmental justice organization PODER. He was instrumental in pushing a progressive electoral agenda, running for Supervisor of District 9 in 2008.
Up until his passing, Quezada served as Executive Director of Dolores Street Community Services providing housing and sanctuary to immigrants and the working poor. Yet, while Quezada’s focus remained on organizing local communities, he consistently connected it to progressive struggles worldwide. He organized with the Venceremos Brigade, the Venezuela Solidarity Group, and Grassroots Global Justice.
Longtime activist Ana Perez states, “Few people have such a deep relationship with people in our community, the clarity of revolutionary politics, the energy, the unstoppable work ethic and the courage to say the truth and take on anyone who needs to be challenged in defense of community.”