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Trailblazers Selected for 2014

February 4th, 2014 |

The Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center (CRHC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the annual Trailblazers Award which recognizes community members for their dedication to civil and human rights in the Michiana community.  This year’s recipients will be honored at a ceremony at the Engman Natatorium, 1040 W. Washington St. at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15.

About the 2014 Recipients:

Willie Mae Butts

Mrs. Butts assisted her husband, Dr. Milton A. Butts, in his medical practice for many years in both Elkhart and then South Bend. At the same time, she worked as a volunteer for a variety of community organizations, including United Way, Urban League, St. Joseph County Cancer Society and St. Joseph County Mental Health Association. Mrs. Butts was the first woman of African descent to be elected to the South Bend Human Relations and Fair Employment Practices Committee. She is a life member of the NAACP and a board member of the St. Joseph Hospital Auxiliary. She has spent decades committed to civil rights issues in South Bend and has been an active supporter and participant in efforts to document and make available the long history of African Americans in Northern Indiana through her work with the Center for History, and other historical institutions in Michiana.

 Gregorio “Greg” Chavez Jr.

Gregorio Chavez was born in Robstown, Texas, to a migrant farm worker family and retired from the armed forces. He has lived in South Bend since 1972. Chavez served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years where he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal (twice). Locally, La Casa de Amistad, of South Bend, recognized him with its “Humanity Knows No Borders” award and the Martin Luther King Day Celebration awarded him a Drum Major Award.

After his military service Chavez worked in the bilingual department of the South Bend Community School Corp. and retired in 1994. He has been the president and vice president of the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Council 5001, LULAC state director, and LULAC National Midwest vice president. LULAC Council 5001 named a scholarship after him in 1998. He is a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Post 360, and has served on the boards of the Center for the Homeless, Hispanic Leadership Coalition, and the LULAC National Board of Directors, as well as a South Bend Human Relations Commissioner, State Commission for Hispanic/Latino Affairs, and the Private Industry Council of St. Joseph County. Chavez was part of a group of community members who successfully pushed for the honorary naming of parts of Western Avenue after Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) labor union.

About the Trailblazers Award:

This program series honors local members of the minority and disadvantaged community who are considered pioneers in their respective fields of endeavor. Honorees are lauded for professional and service innovations that have added to the quality of life for all people in the Michiana community. Many of those recognized are considered the unsung heroes of activities that led to the advancement of the status of the poor, minorities, and disadvantaged people in the region.  In collaboration with WNIT Public Television, the honorees are featured in short video vignettes that air on television during the month of February.

About the CRHC:

The Civil Rights Heritage Center (CRHC) at Indiana University South Bend, is committed to the advancement of civil rights and social justice research, education, and outreach, especially in the Michiana region. It fosters empirical and analytical research, sponsors student inquiry and activities and convenes faculty, visiting scholars, policy advocates and others to examine and discuss issues of importance to racial and ethnic minorities, to the poor, gays and lesbians, and to other potential beneficiaries of civil rights advances. The CRHC’s programming work focuses on civil rights education and history, economic justice, and voting rights.

The CRHC is a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.



CONTACT Marc Rodriguez  at mr52@iusb.edu     

Civil Rights Heritage Center                                                                             

Indiana University South Bend                                                                                    

1040 W. Washington St.

Phone: 574-520-4243





Lectures and Presentations Press Release

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