"Migration Is Beautiful" was just released by Voice of Art this week! The short 3-part documentary follows me and many other pro-migrant artists as we go to Tucson and Charlotte to combat anti-migrant hate with art. It also shows shines light on some of the worst migration policies in the country and what the community is doing to fight them back.
This documentary wouldn't have been possible with the amazing artists and activists who are featured in the documentary. From the artwork of Melanie Cervantes, Jesus Barraza and Julio Salgado to Pulitzer-prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas and the UndocuBus bus riders, this documentary shows the power of cultural and community organizing.
Oakland-based artist-activists Melanie Cervantes & Jesus Barraza form Dignidad Rebelde, a graphic arts collaborative working for social justice. They believe that art can be an empowering reflection of community struggles, dreams and visions, and following principles of Xicanisma and Zapatismo, create work that translates people’s stories into art that can be put back into the hands of the communities who inspire it.
Jasiri X is an emcee and community activist. He is the creative force and artist behind the ground breaking internet news series, This Week with Jasiri X, which has garnered critical acclaim, thousands of subscribers, and millions of internet views. A founding member of the anti-violence group One Hood, Jasiri recently started the New Media Academy to teach young African-American boys how to analyze and create media for themselves.
Josh MacPhee is a designer, artist, activist and archivist. He is a member of both the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative (Justseeds.org) and the Occuprint collective. He is the co-author of Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now, co-editor of Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Culture, and he recently co-founded the Interference Archive, a public collection of cultural materials produced by social movements (InterferenceArchive.org).
Julio Salgado is the co-founder of DreamersAdrift.com. His status as an undocumented, queer artivist has fueled the contents of his illustrations, which depict key individuals and moments of the DREAM Act and migrant rights movement. He was one of the rider of the UndocuBus, a bus ride from Arizona to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
From the Mountains of Guerrero, Mexico comes nationally acclaimed poet, Yosimar Reyes. Based out of San Jose, CA his style has been described as "a brave and vulnerable voice that shines light on the issues affecting Queer Immigrant Youth and the many disenfranchised communities in the U.S and throughout the world." Yosimar’s distinct style has managed to get him to perform and give lectures on stages and classrooms all over the United States (always representing East Side San Jose and his beautiful Mexico).
Kitzia Esteva is an organizer with the Bus Riders Union and the Labor Community Strategy Center working on transit justice, environmental justice and civil rights. She is a spoken word and theater of the oppressed artist and Immigrant Rights activist. She is also a member of the Coalition to end Sheriff Violence in LA Counties, an emerging campaign that focuses on ending state violence of balck, latino and immigrant communities.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network works to improve the lives of day laborers and expand their labor and human rights. Among other organizations, it was the primary anchor of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice that rode from Phoenix, AZ to the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2012 to challenge anti-immigrant Sheriffs and federal deportation programs and to energize a new level of organizing from within the migrant community.
Roberto Lovato is a writer and commentator at New America Media, a strategy consultant and a Co-Founder of Presente.org, the country's pre-eminent online Latino advocacy organization, with a membership of over 250,000 people.
Jose Antonio Vargas, a multimedia storyteller, is the founder of Define American, a campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration. In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant, stunning media and political circles and attracting worldwide coverage. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine internationally with fellow undocumented immigrants as part of a follow-up cover story.
Oree Originol is an artist who explores geometry, imagination, and ancient spiritual symbolism in his art work. Influenced by indigenous iconography remixed with his contemporary interpretation of the universe, Oree constructs hypnotic patterns using shapes and structures.
Isabel Garcia Garcia is a co-founder of Derechos Humanos, a Tucson, AZ. organization that defends immigrant rights and works to publicize conditions on the U.S-Mexico border.
Progreso is a hip-hop artist based in Tucson, AZ. and was a participant of CultureStrike's Tucson Stand Up.
It is truly rare to find an artist like Detroit based lyricist and activist Invincible. Their spitfire wordplay has received acclaim from fans all across the world, while their active involvement in progressive social change has taken their music beyond entertainment toward actualizing the change they wish to see. For the last decade Invincible has worked with Detroit Summer, a multi-racial, inter-generational collective in Detroit that is transforming communities through youth facilitative leadership, creativity and collective action. They were also the co-coordinator and co-founder of the Detroit Future Youth network to support social justice and media-based youth projects throughout the city. They are currently working with renown producer Waajeed (Bling47/DIRT TECH RECK), visual artist Wesley Taylor, and creative technologist Carlos Garcia on Complex Movements, an interactive multimedia installation based hip-hop collective exploring the relationship between complex sciences and social justice movements.