In his role as the leader of a national veterans’ civil rights group created to help protect Mexican Americans from discrimination, Lawrence Romo has a long history of fighting for diversity and inclusion. And now the Latinx civil rights leader will take his considerable skills and knowledge to Washington D.C. after recently being added to a commission that will soon begin working to remove Confederate names, monuments, and symbols from military bases and other government assets.
Romo currently serves as the national commander of the American GI Forum, a Congressionally chartered Hispanic veterans and civil rights organization founded in 1972 that focuses on issues related to veterans’ lives including education, outreach, and civil rights. In his new role on the bipartisan commission, Romo will help to decide which bases, monuments, and other military assets are potentially offensive or have problematic histories and need to be changed. He will then also help to put plans in place for those changes to occur.
Huge news! The CHC applauds @HASCDemocrats Chair Adam Smith for naming Latino leader Lawrence Romo to the Confederate Base Naming Commission.
— Hispanic Caucus (@HispanicCaucus) March 8, 2021
According to Suzanne Gamboa of NBC News, “national defense legislation mandating the removals became law in January after Congress overrode a veto of the legislation by then-President Donald Trump.”
“A plan, which will include community input, is due back to the House and Senate Armed Services committees by October 2022, and the secretary of defense must implement the plan by Jan. 1, 2024, under federal law,” Gamboa reported.
Romo joins seven others who were named to the commission — four individuals selected by the secretary of defense and four members who were picked by members of Congress. The current commission selections include retired U.S. Army Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick; private business owner and civic leader Jerry Buchanan; and Rep. Austin Scott who represents Georgia’s 8th Congressional District. Its makeup consists of five people who are white, two who are Black, and Romo, who is the only Latinx individual on the commission.
More than 100 Confederate monuments, statues and symbols have been removed since police killed George Floyd.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 25, 2020
“Each appointed commissioner brings a wealth of diverse experiences and knowledge to the table and, rest assured, we will be diligent in our efforts to create a fair, diverse and detailed plan as required [by the law],” Romo said in a statement issued to NBC News.
Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, a veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, championed Romo’s inclusion on the commission, saying in a statement that his presence “will ensure that the commission itself more closely resembles the diversity of the American people that gives us strength in the face of the racism and bigotry that was at the core of the Confederacy and which continues to haunt our country today.”