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DELGADO, Abelardo (Lalo) B(arrientos) 1931-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born November 27, 1931, in La Boquilla de Conchos, Chihuahua, Mexico; died of liver cancer July 23, 2004, in Denver, CO. Educator, activist, and author. Delgado was a pioneering Mexican American poet who wrote passionately of social injustices. Born in Mexico, he moved to El Paso, Texas, with his family when he was twelve. A bright student in high school, Delgado nonetheless believed his teachers, who encouraged him to be a laborer, not a writer. After graduating from high school in 1950, therefore, he spent several years working for restaurants and in construction. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he found work as a special activities and employment director for Our Lady's Youth Center in El Paso, where he helped inspire poor students to pursue job and educational opportunities. Inspired himself, Delgado decided he could get a college degree, and so he studied at the University of Texas at El Paso, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1962. Meanwhile, he also worked in the farm worker movement led by Cesar Chavez. Delgado attended graduate courses at El Paso in the early 1970s and went on to the University of Utah from 1974 to 1977. During the 1970s, Delgado was active in a variety of teaching and human services jobs, including jobs with the Colorado Migrant Council, the Northwest Chicano Health Task Force in Seattle, and the Colorado Migrant Council, and teaching posts at the University of Texas and the University of Utah. At the Colorado Migrant Council, Delgado became project director of the Farmworker Data Network in the late 1970s, was a special services/parent-involvement coordinator in the early 1980s, and became executive director in 1985. Making his home in Colorado, during the late 1980s he taught at Aims Community College, St. Thomas Seminary, and the University of Colorado. His longest commitment was with Metropolitan State College in Denver, where he taught for seventeen years. Balancing education with civil rights, Delgado spent 1990 through 1998 as a client services specialist at the Justice Information Center in Denver. Despite all these considerable accomplishments, however, it is for his poetry that Delgado—sometimes known more familiarly as Lalo—will be remembered by many people. Writing in English, Spanish, and a mix of the two now known as Caló, the poet wrote passionately on the behalf of Chicanos and Latinos, publishing over a dozen works, and he is considered the forerunner of and inspiration to Hispanic-American poets everywhere. Among his works are It's Cold: Fifty-two Cold-Thought Poems of Abelardo (1974), Here Lies Lalo: Twenty-five Deaths of Abelardo (1977; revised edition, 1979), and La Llorona: Forty-three Lloronas of Abelardo (1987). Delgado also published a novel, Letters to Louise (1982), and the nonfiction work The Chicano Movement: Some Not-Too-Objective Observations (1971). Among his honors are the 1972 Interracial Books for Children Prize for Short Stories, the 1988 El Paseño Newspaper Prize for Poetry, and the Denver City Mayor's Award for the Arts, also awarded in 1988.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2004, p. B14.

New York Times, July 30, 2004, p. A12.

Times (London, England), September 8, 2004, p. 30.

Washington Post, August 3, 2004, p. B5.

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Delgado, Abelardo (Lalo) B(arrientos) 1931-2004

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