UCLA lost two inspirational Johns last weekend on June 4th and June 5th.
I’m kinda disappointed in UCLA for the way they over-emphasize the death of one John over another.
One John, everyone is very familiar with. Last name Wooden. He died at age 99.
He coached UCLA Men’s basketball teams. He won 10 NCAA Championships over the 1960s and 1970s. He coached Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton who later became big NBA stars. His pyramid of success is a point of reference for coaches, and individuals. His cliches from “don’t confuse effort with results” to “be concerned more about your character than your reputation” have been instrumental motivating words in my life.
The other John, familiar in the organizing community was a former union organizer turned college professor. Last name Delloro. En Espanol, “of the gold.” He died at age 39.
In his very short career, he established himself as an inspirational community leader. He worked for the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Service Employees International Union, and Dolores Huerta Labor Institute.
Most notably, he organized his mom’s hospital so that employees would get union benefits. Because of his dedication on behalf of workers’ rights, he worked himself tirelessly. This tireless workaholism gave him a heart attack at age 35, which prompted a career change into education.
He came to UCLA in 2007 as a visiting lecturer where he taught in the Asian American Studies department.
One individual at his vigil said that he was destined to be the next generation’s Philip Veracruz, a union organizer who along with Cesar Chavez sparked the farmworkers movement.
I’m not here to play the game of whose death was more important, but its sickening to barely see any mention of John Delloro’s death at UCLA, especially considering the suddenness of it and his reputation in the labor community. It’s as if the UCLA Asian American Studies department doesn’t exist or is some obscure on-campus student club.
It speaks to an institutional or societal sickness and injustice we have in over-recognizing one man and completely ignoring another.
I met both of them. Wooden at the UCLA store. Delloro at his office, just a few short weeks ago to discuss a book project.
Wooden seemed down to earth enough to still be mingling amongst the townspeople. It was almost surreal to see him at such an old age yet still moving around.
Delloro is the one I had a face-to-face conversation with. I wasn’t his student, he was my partner’s student. Yet, he still chose to meet with me, a complete nobody to discuss a book project.
Despite his rush to get off campus, he still took time out of his day packed to the brim with meetings, readings, and teachings.
I could say more about John Wooden than John Delloro, but I think it’s important for us to recognize that Delloro was an everyday dude coming from backgrounds we come from — an everyday hero.
He didn’t really put himself on a pedestal or beyond and above everyone.
We lost an educator who cut across different boundaries to outreach, a source of grassroots inspiration, and a decent unrecognized every day man.