Sacramento native Rachel Parra grew up in a bilingual
household with six biological and two adopted siblings. "My
mom is Caucasian and my dad is Spanish," she says. "I have
an African-American brother." An all-state softball player,
Parra married her high-school sweetheart and has three
children, two of whom play on the little-league baseball
team she coaches. When she started work as a bilingual
assistant at HACSA (Housing and Community Services Agency of
Lane County) in 2001, Parra saw employment discrimination at
the agency. She took classes at the UO Labor Education and
Research Center and joined the NAACP in 2005 to activate its
dormant legal redress committee. "I lost my job when I began
to advocate," she says. "They said I was involved with
militant groups." Her job restored after she filed a
grievance, Parra continues to work in a hostile environment.
"My mission is bigger, to give a voice to others," she says.
"My mouth is big enough." Parra organized the MLK march this
year and is currently planning a three-on-three basketball
tourney for late July to benefit the NAACP.
photograph and story by Paul Neevel
Eugene Weekly / 14 June 2007