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  • Because We All Need More Human Connection: Honoring the Work of Lillian Roybal Rose

    by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard

    Posted on 2015-12-07

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    ROYBAL-ALLARD of california in the house of representatives Monday, December 7, 2015 Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to my sister, Lillian Roybal Rose, who made a career of leading nationally acclaimed cross-cultural leadership awareness seminars and workshops which fostered greater understanding between people of diverse backgrounds, and helped lay a foundation for a more peaceful multicultural future.

    For over 35 years, Lillian taught her workshops to academic, corporate, civic, and community groups. Her ultimate goal was to increase participants' self-awareness and help them establish mutual understanding and respect for others. She did this by creating a safe and supportive environment for participants to learn how internalized oppression affects thinking and attitudes, and how the resulting patterns of behavior affect communication between individuals, within groups, and between groups.

    When Lillian developed this workshop in the late 1970s, it turned the then-current diversity training model of ``blame and shame'' on its head. Her workshops relied on practical theoretical models based on psychology and ethics, and on interactive and experiential activities that allowed participants not merely to engage their minds but to open their hearts.

    This workshop approach, coupled with Lillian's ability to see and bring out the best in people, helped participants build powerful frameworks for effective long-term cooperation and communication, and enabled them to reclaim pride in their roots through the exploration of shared experiences.

    Lillian understood that the key to appreciating others is developing a better understanding of ourselves. When we can define and recognize forms of oppression that affect all of us, we can begin to relate to each other as individuals and build alliances.

    Over and over again, I have met individuals from across the country who have expressed their gratitude for my sister's work. Those who have participated in her workshops have told me countless times, ``She has changed my life and made me a better person.'' While my sister is retired and no longer presents her workshops, she has been convinced by many of those same participants to give a farewell presentation. On December 12th and December 13th on the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara, Lillian will present an encore workshop. People from different parts of the country will again be there to experience Lillian's brilliance, compassion, authenticity, and humility as she takes this final opportunity to share her life's work.

    Lillian has said of the people who participated in her workshops, ``We gave, and continue to give each other support and hope that we can reach a fair and just society, where all can be treated with dignity and respect, have equal opportunity, and where we can love and celebrate our differences. My love and thank you to all.'' Mr. Speaker, I have been blessed to have Lillian as my sister, and I am proud to join Lillian's colleagues and friends for her encore workshop and in honoring her life's work.


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