In this reflection piece, community partner and public programming coordinator, Ivonne Rodriguez, reflects on organizing a multi-generational panel of activists for the Student Power: Walking Out for Justice Since 1968 exhibition.
The Womyn of the Walkouts event was held on Sunday, May 20th, 2018 as a public programming event for the museum’s Student Power: Walking Out for Justice Since 1968 exhibition.
It was designed to highlight the contributions of the women leaders of the 1968 Walkouts.
Our initial objective was to produce a talk where Legacy Activistas could join Dr. George Sánchez and Josefina Lopez on stage and allow questions from the audience. Because of Dr. Sánchez’s and Josefina’s relationship with Paula Crisostomo, Vickie Castro and Mita Cuarón they were contacted and invited.
Our focus was to also center this event to present social justice work being performed by local youth, so we reached out to local educator, Emily Grijalva. At the time, Emily was a Mendez High School English teacher and moderator for some of the on-campus, student-led organizations and clubs as well as a practitioner of autonomous community strengthening efforts in Boyle Heights. Emily was also doing Restorative Justice work at Mendez and working with brilliant and passionate activists and writers for the Boyle Heights Beat. Thus, Emily connected us with Mendez H.S. Scholars and Activistas, Guadalupe Félix, Carmen González, Citlalli López who would engage in conversation with the 1968 Activistas.
As the planning and coordination moved forward it also catalyzed interest from other 1968 Activistas. We were very fortunate to have Cassandra Alarcón, Rachel Ochoa and Yolanda Rios join as well. We had a full panel on stage of womyn freedom fighters sharing their powerful stories reflecting light on their work and the motivation for their individual and collective fight for justice.
In the front row, Bobby Verdugo, 1968 Walkouts activist joined in the audience to support his wife, Yolanda Rios. Bobby passed away on May 1, 2020 at the age of 69.