As Co-chair of the Unity Council, I Rosenda Mataka would like to thank everyone who attended or contributed to the Roots Of Resistance bi-annual conference. The amount of time dedicated to the conference by our Director Nayamin Martinez and staff was appreciated by all of us who attended. The venue of the Multi-Cultural Center in Merced was perfect. The center was decorated for the “Dia de Los Muertos”. La Catrina was exhibited at the entrance to welcome all the attendees & beautiful local artwork plastered the walls.
The conference MC, Lourdes Medina was a natural and familiar voice. Her ability to make us feel comfortable with unfamiliar faces was a blessing. Our guest speaker was Special Assistant Attorney General, Arsenio Mataka. His topic “Environmental Justice Inside Out” was an inspiring story of growing up in the environmental justice community of the Central Valley. He then adapted those experiences to help communities of color within a government framework. His message was “Our Lives, Our Stories, Our Voices, that is what moves people.
The panel “Roots of Resistance through the lens of Youth” was led by Gustavo Aguirre Jr. Thanks to Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, CHAPS-Berkeley/Stanford Children’s Health and Air Pollution Study and Greenfield Walking Group for their youthful energizing participation. They were represented by young adults who spoke passionately with messages of involvement and hope.
A children’s skit on the environment was taught by Director of Contraluz Teatral, Guadalupe Beltran. The skit was a reminder to us that justice work needs to begin early in life.
The conference ended in the traditional circle of unity with everyone holding hands singing “De Colores”. Special thanks to Lupe Martinez and Gustavo Aguirre Sr. for leading with their voices. They continue to make that tradition all the more beautiful. See you all in two years with new victories and stories to share!