I wrote the following article and created the two videos below as the start of a series of videos documenting Women of Color Activists in Texas. Stayed tuned for more!
Texas Women Stand up for Social Change
By Erika Gonzalez
Texas is home to a rich history of resistance in the belly of the beast. As a “Red State” self proclaimed by many republican officials who continuously try to push their conservative agendas, it is no wonder why we hardly ever hear about the positive community work being done on the ground to shift Texas politics. At the forefront of the grassroots social justice movement in Texas, are many women of color whose sacrifices have led them to be well known community activists, often unnoticed in the larger public eye.
During the weekend of July 31 – August 02, 2009, Alma de Mujer: Center for Social Change held the first Women’s Activist Gathering in Austin, TX. The gathering drew over 50 Texas-based Native women/Indigenous women and women of color activists whose work focuses on Native sovereignty, immigration and/or environmental justice.
I caught up with several of the women at the gathering and asked them to share stories about their personal journeys as women of color activists as well as to discuss why Alma de Mujer is an important gathering space for women in Texas.
The first video includes a conversation (in Spanish) with Petra Mata, Executive Director of Fuerza Unida based in San Antonio, TX. Fuerza Unida formed 19 years ago when a Levi’s Factory in San Antonio closed down leaving more than 1,150 workers, mostly women, unemployed and with unjust severance pay. Fuerza Unida first started as a support group for women, and later turned to a woman’s leadership development center for women in San Antonio using education, social work, and activism in the community.
The second video includes the first part of a series of conversations with Cemelli de Aztlan, Executive Director for the Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos, Tx. Cemelli is a Xicana born in El Paso, TX and has recently graduated from Harvard University. In this video, Cemelli talks about the Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor as it relates to the Peace and Dignity Journeys and touched on the importance of Texas being the caretakers of the sacred medicine, peyote. In videos to come, Cemelli will discuss the issue of women of Juarez murders along the El Paso – Juarez border, the issue of globalization and her views on Sotomayor, as well as her views on Alma de Mujer: Center for Social Change.
For more information about Alma de Mujer, visit firstname.lastname@example.org