This oral history interview was conducted by Gabe Sanders with America Bracho, a lifelong community organizer and has founded several health programs for Latinos across the country.
In the midst of a global pandemic and social reckoning, a contentious national election culminated in a Black woman assuming the office of Vice President for the first time in the country’s history. Her name is Francia Márquez, and she is the human and environmental rights activist who went from teenage mother working as a housekeeper to second in command of Colombia’s executive branch.
There is no pre-requisite for practicing nonviolent resistance. The use of this terminology, propagated by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, has never been required for the employment of peaceful strategies of opposing injustice, nor has a lifelong allegiance to the practice.
Language is one of the most powerful tools for resistance. Some dismiss language alone as incapable of effecting change. However, history reveals that the ability to understand and communicate a language in a way that connects, empowers, and galvanizes the disenfranchised can itself be revolutionary
Since his death in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi’s employment of civil disobedience has famously inspired some of history’s most prominent freedom fighters, including Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi’s name has even become the root of an adjective used for the principles by which he lived.
To be prudent does not mean to be timid. While prudence is often regarded as synonymous with caution, it also signifies wisdom, thriftiness, and foresight. Prudencia Ayala possessed all three, and she was anything but timid.
From the start, she spoke with passion and a sense of urgency. She was accepting the largest award for grassroots environmental activists in the world, and yet she seemed apathetic toward the esteem. Zeroed in on her cause, she admonished the audience – “¡Despertemos! Despertemos, humanidad. Ya no hay tiempo” (Let us wake up! Let us wake up, humankind. We are out of time).
On January 9, 1959, in Laj Chimel – a small indigenous community surrounded by unpaved Guatemalan mountain range — a Quiché Mayan child and future luminary for indigent natives across the Western Hemisphere was born.