Lupe Valdez

Small Thing - Feb. 24, 2018

Lupe Valdez
February 24, 2018
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Campaign status: Lost

TEXT ON SCREEN: "Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world." Bette Midler

ANNOUNCER: This is where it happened. This is where one afternoon a teacher changed a life. In some parts of Texas, what that teacher did might seem like a small thing, but it wasn't – not for Lupe Valdez. On that day when that teacher pulled Lupe aside and told her, you've got what it takes to go to college, it changed everything. Only Lupe didn't really know it yet.

Lupe started getting up a lot earlier in the morning and rode a city bus across San Antonio to a better high school. And every day she'd go into the bathroom before class to clean her shoes. It might seem like a small thing, but she was the only girl who came from a place that had no streets or sidewalks – just dirt and mud. Lupe's parents were farm workers – migrants – poor but proud. Most of her brothers and sisters didn't even finish school because the family followed the crops.

But Lupe found a different way – to college, the military, then into law enforcement, first in the corrections system then later to South America where she gathered intelligence on drug traffickers. And here's where Lupe ended up – as Dallas' first sheriff who just happened to be a woman, a Latina and LGBT. And that was no small thing.

Neither was taking on the good ol' boy system, performing the promotion process so more women and people of color could climb the ladder. And she treated prisoners like people, giving those who deserve a second chance the opportunity to take a different path.

So after a lifetime of being stubborn and proud and smart and caring and a unique ability to see the potential in others, because someone once saw that in her, Lupe Valdez has never forgotten that teacher. Because a small thing can change everything.