By Ariana Varela, Freedom Archives
On Saturday, August 12th 2017, the Freedom Archives hosted the Bay Area premiere of their new documentary “Symbols of Resistance” at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. Speaking to a capacity audience of 250 people, the film crew opened the event by discussing the Symbols of Resistance event, held in Colorado in 2014, which originally sparked the filmmaking process.
“Symbols of Resistance” illuminates the stories of Chican@ martyrs who fought for access to higher education, land rights, and against police brutality. These stories are given very little coverage in official history books and had previously been shared and passed down primarily through the oral remembrances of friends and family members who knew the martyrs. This film is an important step in preserving these important narratives for generations to come. In fact, one of the foundational aspects of the Chican@ movement in the 1960s and 1970s was a renewal of interest in learning and developing a collective consciousness about indigenous and Mexican history. Following the film, George Galvis, a Chicano/Indigenous community worker in Oakland performed an emotionally grounding and moving musical tribute in honor of the Chican@ martyrs. This was followed by a short reflection from Jason Ferreira, chair of Race and Resistance Studies in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, who discussed the importance of understanding and recognizing the history and work not just of the Chican@ martyrs, but martyrs from all our major movements for social justice.
During the reception at 518 Valencia, the film participants who traveled from Colorado were honored by the moviegoers and given some space to reflect on the content of the film from their perspective. Priscilla Falcon and Ricardo Romero, both longtime Chican@ activists, discussed how they’ve been able to continue their activism throughout their lifetimes and spoke of the importance of youth led movements. Both Priscilla and Ricardo currently work with the Tierra Amarilla Youth Leadership Institute held on the liberated land of Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico. This seven-day immersion and education program teaches Chican@ youth from across the Southwest about their history, culture, and how to be self-sustaining on the land. This camp is free for the youth participants and aims to give them the tools to challenge social injustices in the community.
I really appreciated hearing Priscilla and Ricardo’s lived experiences and stories and seeing they’re still involved in activism inspires people like myself to engage and stay engaged in social justice and movement work. It was also great to see the culmination of years of work to document these stories of resistance and preserve them for future generations.
Ariana Varela is a recent graduate from the University of San Francisco where she received her bachelor’s in History. She has worked with the Freedom Archives for three years.