(Washington, D.C.) — In recognition of his work to open pathways for the next generation of Mexican Americans and members of the Latinx community, David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, has received the Ohtli Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Mexican Government upon an individual.
The award is administered by the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and recognizes individuals who have aided, empowered or positively affected the lives of Mexican nationals in the United States and other countries. The name of the award is derived from the Nahuatl word for “path”, indicative of creating pathways for others. Hinojosa was honored on Nov. 21 at the Mexican Cultural Institute.
“As a proud grandson of Mexican immigrants, it is truly the most humbling honor to receive the Ohtli Award from the Mexican Ambassador. I know my grandparents would have been so gratified in knowing how I have used my legal skills to serve the Latinx community and other communities of color,” Hinojosa said. “I am incredibly grateful for the resilient families and communities with whom I have partnered, including the National Association for Bilingual Education who nominated me, and for dedicated colleagues who I have stood with in the fight for racial justice and equal opportunity for the past two decades.”
At the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Hinojosa leads the Educational Opportunities Project, which strives to guarantee that all students receive equal educational opportunities in public schools and institutions of higher education. The project’s work includes efforts to end systemic discrimination and segregation in public schools, promote diverse and integrated learning environments, and challenge discriminatory school discipline policies and funding inequities. The project is also leading efforts to defend race-conscious admissions policies at colleges in Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Texas.
“I am incredibly proud of my good friend and colleague David Hinojosa for receiving the prestigious Ohtli Award. Long known as a top litigator, he is also a visionary who has served selflessly to create opportunity for others, especially young people of color,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Whether providing critical advice to communities behind the scenes or expertly navigating high-profile matters in the national spotlight, David moves humbly but excels in a way that makes everyone around him better and stronger. We are lucky to have him on our team and grateful for his leadership. He is most deserving of this high honor.”
Hinojosa’s past work includes serving as Southwest Regional Counsel with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), where he helped address the segregation of Latinx and Black students, preserved the Texas DREAM Act, reclaimed access to driver’s licenses for immigrants, halted the segregation of and unequal pay for Latinx employees, and ensured foreign-born military veterans received tuition waivers at Texas colleges, among other civil rights work. At the Lawyers’ Committee, he leads a team that is pioneering the future of opportunity in higher education and K-12 schools using litigation and policy to promote the interests of communities of color. Among other notable work, his team is the only one in the nation that has been involved in the defense of every one of the active federal court challenges to diversity in higher education.
A proud San Antonian, Hinojosa is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org