As a direct result of the White House meeting with Lyndon Johnson, MAOF was funded by the government to pursue equal opportunity employment opportunities. As significant, at Dionicio’s invitation, the Vice President attended a conference in Los Angeles, wherein he addressed over one thousand of the Mexican-American leaders and opened the door to the recognition of affirmative-action programs to elevate the opportunities for the Mexican-American community to climb up the corporate ladder. Corporate America took notice and found in Americans of Mexican heritage equal partners in the quest for economic growth and global competitiveness.
Thereafter, MAOF became the vanguard in social programs to improve the quality of education of its young, the civic education of its community, the participation of its senior citizenry, in the continued contribution to its welfare, in the reformation of its imprisoned population, in the enhancement of women’s rights and, in general, in the active participation and contribution of Americans of Mexican heritage in the general welfare of their country the United States of America. Last, but not least, Dionicio became the ambassador of goodwill, de facto, between two of the great nations of North American-Mexico and the United States.
ln recognition of his many achievements, Don Dionicio has been accorded numerous accolades: The County of Los Angeles named The Dionicio Morales Plaza at East Los Angeles’ Belvedere Park; he was accorded honorary citizen status by the two Mexican states that host the Tarascan cultural heritage, Guanajuato and Michoacán; he was awarded the Life Achievement award by Hispanic- Business Magazine; in addition, he has received 121 tributes, including Life-Time Achievement Awards from the University of California at Santa Barbara (his alma mater) and the MAOF Board of Directors. He was truly a legend in his own time. Dionicio Morales passed away on September 24th of this year; he was 89.
Today, MAOF is one of the largest Mexican-American community service organizations with an annual budget of -$6o million. The preschool program is nationally recognized by preparing bicultural children with self-esteem and a pride of their heritage in the awareness of their privileged status as Americans. MAOF educates its preschool children to enter the school system as English language participants with a significant advantage over their predecessors to graduate from high school and enter postgraduate education institutions of learning. In Southern California, where Mexican-Americans comprise over 50% of the population, his contribution is the hallmark of America’s future well being.
And yet, his biggest reward is the offspring and successors who carry his baton forward. His first daughter, Margarita, an educator, is an eloquent and philosophical messenger of his legacy. His son, Tim, is a com-munity activist. His second daughter, Magdalena, is the safe keeper and overseer of his legacy. Her twin brother, Dionicio ir., was born with Down Syndrome and lives at home. His wife, Maria, continues as his inspiration and lifetime partner in the quest for a better society. His extended family includes Martin Castro, his prot6g6 who is the competent administrator who, after Dionicio’s retirement, took over the reigns as the President of MAOF, supported by a loyal cadre of board members who unselfishly dedicate their time and resources to the well being of the organization.
His legend is the pursuit for man’s quest for dignity. When I good-naturedly asked him how he was able to’play’conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, Mexican and American politicians: “Don Dionicio, how do you manage to influence so many diverse interests and mold them into your agenda?” He replied, “My dear friend, I have only one political party, ‘The Brotherhood of Man’, and one agenda, ‘Equality and Justice for all’.” ln essence, he was able to fuse two cultures best immortalized by two of their greatest statesmen: America’s Abraham Lincoln, “With malice toward none-with liberty and justice for alt” and Mexicos Benito Juarez “Respeto al derecho aieno es a paz-Peace lies in the respect for your neighbor’s rights.