|President Bill Clinton applauded after awarding Mario Obledo the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)|
Mario Obledo, humanitarian and rights advocate; at 78
SACRAMENTO — Mario Obledo, president of the National Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, has died. He was 78.
Mr. Obledo’s wife, Keda Alcala-Obledo, said he died Wednesday in Sacramento after suffering a massive heart attack.
During his career, Mr. Obledo was known for his support of civil rights and humanitarian causes.
In 1998, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
While serving as California’s secretary of health and welfare from 1975 to 1982, he was credited with encouraging Latinos to enter state government.
Mr. Obledo was also cofounder of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Hispanic National Bar Association.
He was national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens from 1983-85.