OAKLAND (KCBS/BCN) – The 1992 winner of the Nobel Peace Price brought her anti-violence campaign to the East Bay Monday night. Hundreds of community leaders and at-risk teens turned out to hear Guatemalan civil rights advocate Rigoberta Menchu speak at the Urban Promise Academy.
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
“It is a true honor for us to like, you know, have her here in our community,” said Kimberly Guzman with the anti-gang group Homies Empowerment.
For Guzman, it was especially poignant that Menchu came to the Fruitvale neighborhood.
“People come over here and they only come over here to like report a new crime, take note of a new gang or something. And she’s coming over here to actually speak about ending violence.”
Menchu directed many of her comments at the at-risk teens in the audience.
“What I’m talking about here is how we can organize better and improve our relationships with one another so that our struggles will have more of an impact,” she said through a translator. “And I know that you are all struggling for your dreams. Dreams of freedom, dreams of respect, dreams to have a better home, a better life.”
She also criticized efforts to target undocumented immigrants.
“I know that there is great pain here among the immigrant community, which is really misnamed. It’s really ugly to call people immigrants because we all should have the right to live wherever. Isn’t that the truth?”
“And I know that there is great persecution, there are problems with great police abuse. People that are being denied their freedom.”
Tickets were $3 for youth and students and $5 for adults. The 500-seat auditorium was sold out. The event was a fundraiser for the Chicana/Latina Foundation, Oakland LEAF Urban Arts and the Homies Empowerment program.
Homies Empowerment teaches “knowledge of self” classes at Fremont and Castlemont high schools in Oakland, and brings youths from rival gangs together at weekly dinners at the Eastlake YMCA in Oakland.
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