A friend of mine in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Rich Pellegrino is an amazing man of principle and courage. Although he is himself Italian-American and his lovely wife Vesta is Caribbean-American, he has nonetheless just been named “Person of the Year” by Atlanta Latino magazine. Here’s the article in English.
To my knowledge, Rich is the first non-Latino to be honored this way.
The reason is simple. HE DID SOMETHING. While most folks talk a good game, Rich MOBILIZED!
Rich is unafraid to speak out about what he feels in his heart toward our immigrant population and does so with wisdom, tact and eloquence. Rich, Vesta, and their children started their on “family movement” back in December 2006 by making a sign and holding it up on a street corner in Atlanta. It reads Welcome to ALL and “We are ALL Immigrants” have a look:
In the summer of 2007, the Atlanta Interfaith Council decided to hold an interfaith prayer vigil for the immigrants and the healing of the nation in regards to this issue. Rich Pellegrino represented the Baha’is.
Last Fall, Rich was instrumental in the “Labor of Love” campaign where many community members, organizations and faiths came together to build a giant heart composed of 7000 red, white and blue flowers in downtown Olympic Centennial Park. In a news interview, Rich, as one of the organizers, spoke well and delivered an important message: Though we all come from different ethics origins, we are all ONE PEOPLE. And all of us are worthy of dignity and respect in our diverse national neighborhood.
Since no good deed goes unpunished, Rich has taken a bit of ridicule from neighbors and friends. It seems that some folks have a hard time distinguishing Immigration from illegal border crossings. But Rich’s message is simple and pure: Love and Unity. The immigrants to our country came here because they loved the promise of America. They came here seeking a better life for their children. It has been the same since our founding fathers. Standing up for the principles of Unity and Love can never be wrong, even if it incurs great persecution. Such persecution, willingly borne, will undoubtedly open hearts and minds of others.
“Love and unity are the needs of the body politic today. Without these no progress nor prosperity can be attained. Therefore the friends of God must adhere to that Power which will create this love and unity in the hearts of the sons of men.” (From the Baha’i Writings)