Luz Rivera captivates, inspires during lecture about social change in Mexico

Dylan Tull

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Not since the Vietnam era have social grassroots movements been featured as prominently in the world media as right now, as evidenced by the coverage of Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. Activist Luz Rivera spoke to the same goal of common people leading social change on Friday, Nov. 11, using her lively and inspiring personality to talk about her own from-the-bottom movement in Tlaxcala, Mexico.

Credit: Marin Axtell

Luz Rivera, lead organizer of the Consejo Nacional Urbano Campesino, and her translator and colleague Stuart Schussler are traveling to schools in the Northwest to give their lecture entitled “Sowing Struggle: Urban and Rural Social Movements in Tlaxcala, Mexico.”

 

Through her own movement, Rivera demonstrated how social change and solidarity are both incredibly possible and important for Walla Walla and other communities around the world. Senior politics major Katie DeCramer organized the lecture with the help of the Politics Department, WEB, the Intercultural Center, Beyond Borders Club and Whitman Direct Action.

 

DeCramer explained why she feels Rivera presence is important at Whitman.

 

“We’ve all been hearing about Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring and different sort of from-the-bottom social organizing. Luz and the movement she’s involved with in Tlaxcala speak to that same goal,” she said. “I think [it is important] for Whitman students to see movements within a larger breadth, and also to see how solidarity functions between movements and different contexts can be a very valuable thing to learn.”

 

Sophomore Allison Bolgiano, who helped translate informational flyers into Spanish and attended the lecture and dinner, spoke about Rivera’s lecture.

 

“I think her lecture is a good reminder that we can do things, not just as individuals and also not through the government but somewhere in between, by connecting with other people and trying to form community organization,” she said.

 

Rivera herself described how she wanted her lecture to be received and how her movement relates to Whitman students.

 

Credit: Marin Axtell

“I hope [Whitman students] make their own movement, with their roots in this school, but that they go in many different directions in this country and even outside this country. And so we don’t want to be an example for what they should do here, because in each different place there are different needs,” she said. “We are an expression of the ways in working in Tlaxcala, but in Whitman, in Walla Walla or the U.S., there will be different forms of different expressions that give their own face to what needs to be done.”

But it was really Rivera’s unique, captivating personality that made the lecture so stirring. All of those who met with her spoke to how inspirational and charismatic she is.

DeCramer talked about the first time she saw Luz speak.

“We’d been hearing, ‘Just wait until you meet Luz.’ She walks up and starts speaking, and all of a sudden I just said, ‘That’s her, that’s Luz,’ and [my friend] was like, ‘Oh my god, you’re right,'” she said. “[Luz] captured everyone in the audience’s attention, in a room of 200 people, and was really speaking to people.”

“It was really inspiring; I loved it,” Bolgiano said about the lecture.

Rivera spoke about her take on Whitman and how Whitman students have the opportunity to make similar social changes.

“I have found a community of teachers and students who are very fraternal and interesting; who are disposed [toward] doing things for their community, both their university community and this place where Whitman is located; who don’t just see themselves individually, but who are also looking to have a collective reflection, which is a good combination in order to make Whitman a good place to study and also to dream and dream about how this world can change,” she said.

Luz Rivera, lead organizer of the Consejo Nacional Urbano Campesino, and her translator and colleague Stuart Schussler are traveling to schools in the Northwest to give their lecture entitled “Sowing Struggle: Urban and Rural Social Movements in Tlaxcala, Mexico.”

Through her own movement, Rivera demonstrated how social change and solidarity are both incredibly possible and important for Walla Walla and other communities around the world. Senior politics major Katie DeCramer organized the lecture with the help of the Politics Department, WEB, the Intercultural Center, Beyond Borders Club and Whitman Direct Action.

DeCramer explained why she feels Rivera presence is important at Whitman.

“We’ve all been hearing about Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring and different sort of from-the-bottom social organizing. Luz and the movement she’s involved with in Tlaxcala speak to that same goal,” she said. “I think [it is important] for Whitman students to see movements within a larger breadth, and also to see how solidarity functions between movements and different contexts can be a very valuable thing to learn.”

Sophomore Allison Bolgiano, who helped translate informational flyers into Spanish and attended the lecture and dinner, spoke about Rivera’s lecture.

“I think her lecture is a good reminder that we can do things, not just as individuals and also not through the government but somewhere in between, by connecting with other people and trying to form community organization,” she said.

Rivera herself described how she wanted her lecture to be received and how her movement relates to Whitman students.

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