Mario G. ObledoMario G. Obledo

Civil Rights Pioneer

California State University, Sacramento

Mario Obledo is a civil rights pioneer who has devoted his career to equality, justice and civil liberties for all people. In 1998, he was honored with the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As a co-founder of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Mr. Obledo worked tirelessly to promote social change, advocacy and education in the advancement of civil rights. He served as the organization's general counsel and president, leading its litigation efforts and expansion to cities across the nation. He also shared the organization's message of equality and opportunity in university lectures and legal seminars and conferences.

Mr. Obledo's legacy of leadership in civil rights includes co-founding and serving as president of the National Hispanic Bar Association and launching the National Coalition of Hispanic Organizations. After co-founding the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, he gave thousands of citizens a voice in our democracy with voter registration campaigns and challenges to discriminatory practices.

He served as chair of Jesse Jackson's National Rainbow Coalition and held offices in the League of United Latin American Citizens. His career in public service also included a gubernatorial appointment in 1975 as the California Secretary of Health and Welfare.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy who served during the Korean War, Mr. Obledo also is a former faculty member at Harvard Law School. Among his many honors and awards is the Ohtli Award from the Republic of Mexico. Born in San Antonio, Texas, he received a bachelor of science in pharmacy from the University of Texas, Austin, and his law degree from Saint Mary's University School of Law.

In recognition of his personal and professional accomplishments and meritorious service to society, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Sacramento are proud to confer upon Mario G. Obledo the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.​