Recognition stems from convention experience

This Saturday, January 14, 2017, the southern-most Texas affiliate of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP) will recognize District I Commissioner Richard Cortez with the organization’s highest honor for the work he did when, as mayor, he helped to bring the group’s annual convention to McAllen.

According to Terry Mills, the President of the NAACP in Corpus Christi, Texas, Cortez is career-minded, innovative and believes in diversity inclusion. A long-time friend of the then-mayor, Mills contacted Cortez to help bring the NAACP’s annual convention “as far south as it had never been before: to McAllen.”

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition from the NAACP, whose work for minorities for the past 107 years has given people of color the opportunity to help our country as a whole to advance,” said Cortez.

Working with not only Cortez and the McAllen City Commission, as well as the McAllen Chamber of Commerce President Steve Alhenius and Ernie Arrendondo, previously the director of convention sales for the McAllen Convention & Visitors Bureau, the group was able to be the first conference to be held in the newly minted McAllen Convention Center. Aside from the successful convention, Mills recounts the welcome and ambience that the over 4,000 convention attendees experienced. With delegates coming from cities throughout the state, such as Dallas, Lubbock, Houston, San Antonio and beyond, as well as cities and states outside of Texas including Chicago and New York, he tells how the entire city was hospitable at every turn, making them feel truly welcome.

“In communities where the African-American population is less than 2%, we are often times treated ‘different,’” said Mills. “However, everything we experienced in McAllen was amazing, from the Convention Center, to the hotels, restaurants, shops, the airport, and of course, the people. Our organization received the Key to the City and were made a part of McAllen.”

Last year, Mills nominated Cortez for the Presidential Award, the NAACP’s highest award. Cortez will be presented with the award on Saturday at the group’s annual convention being held in Corpus Christi this year. Mills is currently working to bring the convention back to McAllen in the very near future.

Mills estimates the group infused over $400,000 into McAllen over the four days the convention was in town.