By Leonard Rodriguez
This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 500 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics
Born on March 4, 1847, in New Mexico, Casimiro Barela and his family moved to Colorado in 1867. At age 22, he was elected justice of the peace and began a career in public service that lasted 45 years. He was elected to the territorial legislature and served as sheriff and county assessor of Las Animas County.
In 1875, Barela was elected as a delegate to the state constitutional convention where he secured the first civil rights bill for the Spanish speaking, which required all laws to be written in Spanish as well as English.
Elected to Colorado’s first state senate in 1876, Barela held numerous offices including president of the senate. Retiring at age 69, Barela is forever remembered in Colorado History as “El Padre del Senado Estado de Colorado.”