Recently, we shared a podcast from Calling Back Our Womb (our sister network) that featured the testimony of a Central American woman named Ana who was forced to abort inside an immigrant prison. Her story was featured on the podcast, but she spoke at a public event in California put together by Town Hall Summer and Global Exchange. This event is one of an upcoming series of nationwide conversations around taking back democracy in the US. Ana’s testimony was moving and detailed horrific systemic violence – yet her presence and willingness to share her story at an event to motivate US voters cannot be underestimated.
Today we would like to share a few words from Marco Castillo, director of Town Hall Summer and organizer of the event.
NOTE: Here at Xica Nation we are aware many in our audience have strong opinions on voting and not voting. Our purpose with this story is not to encourage or dis-encourage voting, but to highlight spaces where communities are coming/can come together to create a better world.
This is the full livestream of the event via Global Exchange on FB:
XN: Why should people from barrios across the country be excited about Town Hall Summer? How does this effort fuse with the growing disillusionment of the Democratic party?
MC: Town Hall Summer its a national call for action. It represents a people’s-led movement to stop the unprecedented attacks on our communities and defend a democracy that works for all.
Whether it’s voting, marching, writing, speaking, posting or just talking to a neighbor, Town Hall Summer offers a platform for everyone who wants to take action this summer, in the lead to the election and beyond. There is no little action when it comes to defend life and social justice.
The act of electing our government by popular vote is a powerful act that emerged from the struggles of workers and communities fighting monarchies and dictatorships. Unfortunately, this democratic practice has been corrupted and taken hostage by powerful corporations and politicians. But it isn’t theirs.
Mexico recently, after more than half a century of the same kind of governments who took over power ignoring the result of elections, had a major electoral victory. Just by organizing an unstoppable wave of voters against the system that make it impossible to turn it over
Democracy is a shared responsibility, not a gift, and its in our hands the possibility of claiming it, like Alexandra Ocasio (Bronx) or loose it.
XN: Was the sharing of the stories of the Central American families planned? If so, why did you feel that it was important to include their voices on a US voter campaign? If not, how did their voices weave into the fabric of what THS is doing?
MC: The stories were planned. I wanted to bring the voice of those who have been hurt the most by this administration, because the intention is way more evil and the damage is deeper that what we know. And in a place like Fresno it would be more significative since people think they are far from that reality. The truth is, the second case, the couple who’s son was killed after being the ported was a local family that stood up after the first testimonial.
XN: I noticed that the partners and groups involved in THS are diverse, with many having grassroots. The conversations at the Fresno event wove the Central American humanitarian crisis with US drug policy and voting. Why is this important?
MC: As Armando Gudino from DPA pointed out, the war on drugs have been proven to be a war on people of color, and specifically against poor immigrants. Its the same infrastructure, justified to defend peace and the rule of law, that prosecutes black, brown and poor white and profits out of their incarceration.
The decision of separating families and the way it was implemented, including the prisons and quick changes in rulings and protocols, proved that justice works as a systems that protects the rich from the poor.
XN: How can folks across the US get involved in THS?
MC: Town Hall Summer is a national call for action, and as that, anyone can organize their own event, Soon we’ll be posting a Do Your Own manual. Also people can film themselves or write about what moves them to take action this summer. And most importantly, people can rally, organize, register, and vote.
Visit Town Hall Summer for more info or to get involved at: http://townhallsummer.org