It Takes Roots SPOKESPEOPLE
It Takes Roots to Change the System People’s Caravan Spokespeople
Laura Yolanda Zuñiga Cáceres, COPINH, Honduras
Laura was born in 1993 in La Esperanza, Intibuca, Honduras. She is the third daughter of the Lenca indigenous leader Berta Cáceres Flores and grew up alongside the process of organizing the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH). She has been a youth activist in several organizations including COPINH, in which she participated as a grassroots correspondent for the organization's community radios and also is part of the youth movement Let's Do the Impossible in Argentina. She is currently studying in the area of obstetrics at the University of Buenos Aires.
Quote: Our struggle joins with struggles around the world to defend life in the face of weapons that try to quiet us, in the face of men in uniform who repress us, who assassinate us, in the face of those for whom our lives our disposable as people with multiple bodies, with indigenous, black and rebel spirits.
Areas of Expertise: US Militarism & Foreign Policy, Indigenous People Rights, Environmental Justice, Grassroots Feminism
Rosalina Dominguez Madrid, COPINH, Honduras
Rosalina was born in 1970 in the indigenous Lenca community of Río Blanco, Intibucá, Honduras. She is a mother of seven daughters and three sons. She has stood out as a community leader defending Lenca territory and especially defending the Gualcarque River where the DESA corporation is trying to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project. As a result of the struggle against this project and her joining COPINH she has received a series of threats from the DESA corporation. Currently she is in the charge of finances for the Indigenous Council of Río Blanco and is the treasurer on the board of the community's women's group.
Areas of Expertise: US Militarism & Foreign Policy, Indigenous People Rights, Environmental Justice, Grassroots Feminism
Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Miami, FL
Cindy Wiesner is the National Coordinator of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Alliance (GGJ) and Co-Chair of the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) and the Our Power Campaign. She has been active in the grassroots social justice movement for over 25 years. Previously she was the Leadership Development Director of the Miami Workers Center (MWC) and represented the MWC as a member of the US Social Forum (USSF) National Planning Committee. At both the US Social Forums, Cindy was the co-chair of the national outreach working group and served on the leadership and coordination bodies of those efforts. She currently represents GGJ on the International Council of the World Social Forum. After five years as GGJ Political Coordinator, Cindy rose to the role of National Coordinator in 2012. Cindy is originally from Los Angeles and is of Salvadoran, Colombian and German descent and identifies as Queer. She is based in Miami, Florida.
Quote: “We are in the middle of a storm. The system isn't working, and we can’t depend on the two major political parties to change it. We believe it takes roots to weather the storm and change the system. We are drawing on our collective roots, across regions, borders, identities and issues.”
Areas of Expertise: US Militarism & Foreign Policy, Social Movement Strategy, Climate Justice, Grassroots Feminism, Immigrant Rights, Multi-Racial Solidarity
Organization Twitter: @ggjalliance
Samia Assed, SouthWest Organizing Project, Albuquerque, NM
Samia Assed is a Palestinian-American activist who has strong family roots in New Mexico. She is a wife and mother to nine children, as well as local business owner and is currently the Board President at the Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice. As a President, she has advocated and organized with humanitarian and community groups such as the Islamic Center of New Mexico, Friends of Sabeel, Jewish Voice for Peace, UNM Students for Justice in Palestine, Red Nation, and Con Mujeres - SouthWest Organizing Project, where she has work to dismantle Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism. She was awarded the “Jeanne Gauna Social Justice Spirit Award” for her leadership in many communities. She was a lead organizer with 49 human rights organizations, of the Stop Hate Rally in Albuquerque, NM, with over 1000 people in attendance in early 2016. Her additional work involves being a part of the Friends Of Khuza’s Albuquerque campaign to fundraise to build a kindergarten and a water filtration system in Khuza’s village in Gaza, Palestine and works on solidarity building with Native, Chicano, and African American communities in New Mexico. Samia prides herself in being a Muslim Palestinian-American and New Mexican, and recognizes that our local struggles are intertwined with national and international struggles.
Quote: “As a Muslim Palestinian-American feminist, I believe honor, respect, and dignity are at the core of what feminism means to me. I joined this caravan to stand with my sisters and indigenous communities all over the world to uplift our struggles for self-determination.”
Areas of Expertise: Feminism, Islamophobia, Immigrant Rights, Grassroots Organizing, Anti-Militarism, Multi-Racial Solidarity
Gloria Esteva, Causa Justa::Just Cause, Oakland, CA
Gloria Esteva was born in Oaxaca Mexico, the fifth child of a family of 12 children. She participated in the struggle for change since she was a teenager. In San Francisco, Gloria has been a leader in immigrant rights and feminist grassroots movements for more than a decade. She helped to build the Women Workers Project at POWER, and has played leadership roles in national mobilizations including the Undocubus during the 2012 Democratic National Convention, as well as several national actions with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Currently she is an immigrant rights organizer with Causa Justa::Justice Cause.
Quote: "I'm going because our caravan is reflecting the thirst for justice of our communities as working poor people of all colors. Our Black and Brown unity, along with poor white and LGTBQ communities will forge change at the roots and we want our flags braiding unity with our sisters around the world. We demand a halt to militarism and the killing of our people, both in the US and globally, especially in Honduras.”
Areas of Expertise: Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice, Women Workers, Housing and Displacement, Multi-Racial Solidarity, Grassroots Feminism
Organization Twitter: @CausaJusta1
Nay’Chelle Harris, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), St. Louis, MO
Nay’Chelle Harris is a member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), a St. Louis-based organization working at the intersections of economic, climate, and racial justice in the region. As a member she’s volunteered on a variety of campaigns, from coordinating Ferguson Jail Support and the St. Louis Legal Collective to exposing local prison profiteers and municipal court corruption with Decarcerate St. Louis. Under MORE’s Power Behind the Police campaign, Nay’Chelle’s most recent work involves ensuring fossil fuel corporations like St. Louis based Peabody Energy are held accountable to workers and impacted communities in the wake of bankruptcy and divestment, as the world transitions from fossil fuels to truly clean energy.
Quote: "I'm excited to join the It Takes Roots caravan because if 2016 has taught us anything, it's that when people assert their right to break free from racism, sexism, transphobia, extractive economies, or any other oppression, the pushback will be hard and painful. We need to build within and among our communities in order to continue declaring that we're in this together and we won't be deterred."
Areas of Expertise: Racial Justice, Ferguson, Black community organizing, Environmental Justice, Multi-Racial Solidarity
Personal Twitter: @chellenayrenae | Organization Twitter: @organizemo
Drew Christopher Joy, Southern Maine Workers' Center
Drew Christopher Joy is the director of the Southern Maine Workers' Center--a membership organization committed to creating a grassroots, people-powered movement that improves the lives, working conditions, and terms of employment for working class and poor people in Maine. Drew is a white, mixed-class, queer and trans* carpenter and organizer. After many years of “living away,” Drew moved back to their home state of Maine with a political commitment to multi-racial organizing in majority white, working-class communities, as part of a broad vision of movement building. Drew is honored to do this work with SMWC and it's members.
Quote: “In the current political climate it is essential for grassroots community and labor organizations to build a strong network across differences of geography, gender, race, employment sector, and focus issues in order strategically counter the politics of division and scarcity, this caravan is an opportunity to do just that.”
Areas of Expertise: White Working Class organizing, Worker Rights, Grassroots Strategy, Anti-Racism, Solidarity
Personal twitter: @dcjsmwc | Organization twitter: @maineworkers
Timmy Lu, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Oakland, CA
Timmy Lu is the State Organizing Director with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) where he leads the organization's statewide voter outreach programs and climate justice coalitions. This includes building a powerful base of Asian American voters in California that can be the tipping point for progressive issues like environmental justice, workers' rights, and increasing funding for social services and education. Through his work at APEN, APEN Action, and as a frequent volunteer, Timmy has contributed to progressive electoral struggles and governance in the Bay Area for over 10 years.
Quote: “Elections are where the most number of people in the country engage in politics and debate a vision for our collective future, I'm proud to be a part of the GGJ Caravan where we will be bringing attention in this election to key struggles in grassroots communities that have been ignored for too long!”
Areas of Expertise: Environmental Justice, Just Transition, Oil Impacted Communities, Immigrant Rights, Grassroots Organizing, Multi-Racial Solidarity and Asians for Black Lives.
Personal twitter: @timmyhlu | Organization twitter: @apen4ej
Ramon Mejia, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Texas
Born in Dallas, Texas, Ramon’s father is originally from a small village in Michoacán, Mexico and his mother is from a small town in South Texas. Enlisting in the U. S. Marine Corps in July 2001 out of economic necessity, he was part of the invading force and attached to the first CSSB unit to cross into Iraq in 2003. As a result of his experience in Iraq, he felt the need to learn more about the history of Islam, and what Islam signifies. He made his shahada, declaration of faith, on August 29, 2008 in Dayton, Ohio. While working on his BA in History & Religious Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, he joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). As an anti-Militarism activist, and member of IVAW, Ramon strives to end militarism by transforming himself, military culture and American society. He is part of an interfaith organizing committee that opposes local manifestations of hate and racism in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He also helps build awareness and opposition to the gentrification of his neighborhood causing the further marginalization and forced displacement of poor, people of color, working class, and immigrant communities. He has traveled to the Philippines to learn from the Bangsamoro, the Indigenous Muslim community, about their struggle for self-determination and has learned about human rights violations committed by the Filipino government, as well as U.S. military operating in the area. He works as a Middle School Social Studies teacher and aspires to return to graduate school to gain a deeper understanding of Stokely Carmichael and SNCC grassroots organizing efforts in the South during the Civil Rights Movement.
Quote: “As a Latinx, a Muslim, Veteran, husband and father, it is important to tell our own stories. We live in a society that is homophobic, heterosexist, and discriminatory towards marginalized people. In communities across the U.S., both children and adults are learning to perpetuate oppressive behavior. Homophobia, like Islamophobia, can be fear-driven, but it is also contempt-driven.”
Areas of Expertise: US Militarism & Foreign Policy, US Veterans, Immigrant Rights, Internationalism
Organization Twitter: @IVAW
Rossmery Zayas, Communities for a Better Environment, Los Angeles, CA
Rossmery Zayas is an organizer with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) in Los Angeles, California. She has been volunteering with the youth division of CBE, Youth for Environmental Justice for over four years. At just nineteen years old, she advocates for the organization’s local, regional, and statewide campaigns out of both Southern California and Oakland. As an environmental justice advocate, Rossmery has worked on several campaigns to push out toxic facilities and practices that go on in her community. She is an active leader with the recent shutdown of Exide Technologies (one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of batteries), and is currently demanding that they clean up the toxic waste they left behind. Rossmery is currently a student in Los Angeles majoring in Communication Studies.
Quote: “Where I come from, you must choose between your health or jobs. Where I come from, people are more worried about putting food on the table than the toxic battery recycler contaminating their homes with lead. Where I come from, having asthma, respiratory problems or other health conditions is typical. Where I come from, having dirty air, water, and soil is so normalized, people stop complaining. This is environmental racism.”
Personal twitter: @i_rossmery | Organization twitter: @CBECal
Areas of Expertise: Youth Leadership, Environmental and Climate Justice, Immigrant Rights, Multi-Racial Solidarity