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NEA praises legacy of education leader and scholar Braulio Alonso

NEA’s first Hispanic president was also an international human rights activist

WASHINGTON - June 07, 2010 -

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel today praised the legacy of Braulio Alonso, an educator and human rights activist who died on Saturday at the age of 93. A high school teacher and later a principal, Alonso rose through the ranks of the Association, serving several terms as president of the Hillsborough County (Florida) Education Association and then the Florida affiliate of NEA. He became a member of the NEA Board of Directors and then was elected to the NEA Executive Committee. In 1968, Alonso became the first Hispanic to serve as president of NEA.

During his years in education, he led the effort to merge the National Education Association with the American Teachers Association—the historically Black teachers association originally founded as the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools. The NEA-ATA merger took place in 1966.

Alonso’s impressive record of accomplishments spanned the globe. Here at home, he provided job training in his native Florida for returning World War II veterans. On the world stage, he led an effort to get European teacher organizations to join with NEA on an international conference to combat racism, anti-Semitism and apartheid. He also organized a campaign that saved the life of the president of the education association of Argentina, and he coordinated activities with the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Professions. A scholar as well as an activist, Alonso wrote extensively on the educational systems of Japan, Australia, the former Soviet Union, France, West Germany, Great Britain, Scotland, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Chile and Cuba.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“Throughout his long and distinguished career as an educator, visionary and human rights activist, Dr. Braulio Alonso worked to provide a world-class education for every child without regard to race, creed, religion or place of origin. He spent his life advancing the cause of public education and the teaching profession with great humility and grace.

“While he received numerous accolades for his achievements, one of the finest was having a Tampa high school—Braulio Alonso High School—named in his honor in 2001.

“The thoughts and prayers of our 3.2 million members are with his family.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing
3.2  million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823,