SB1070: The Faces
“For Immediate Release: Press Conference, Activist from Arizona visiting Chicago Area.” This was on a Tuesday. “My dear friend, can you please do me a favor” began the message that was eventually forwarded to me. Such a personal appeal, and such a great opportunity! Renato Avalos and Linda Herrera, activists and filmmakers in the state of Arizona, put their skills to good use as they thoroughly documented the affects that recent legislation, Senate Bill 1070, have on the local population in their new film ‘SB1070: The Faces.’
The screenings of this film in Chicago are already lined up for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but there are no screenings near the Aurora area. That day I email all of my contacts to see if anyone would be interested in seeing the film. After talking with a few of them, and what with a welcoming Immigrant Congregations meeting that evening, I’m confident that we can find a venue. I call Linda Herrera to see if she would be interested in an additional screening; she is highly intrigued and supportive. Having never seen this film I hesitate from connecting Uniting America to this screening, but it is still an opportunity I cannot pass up!
At the Welcoming Immigrant Congregations meeting that evening I show the trailer and New Hope Lutheran Church in North Aurora volunteers right away! After confirming with Linda, I spend the next day creating fliers and emailing contacts. The members of Welcoming Immigrant Congregations do the same and we slowly begin to spread the word. It is Wednesday and we have only 5 days to promote! What with the weekend and city meetings on Monday I am left with only two business days to get the word out to as many as possible.
But I am not alone. Key community leaders encourage their contacts to come and New Hope even secures a donation from a popcorn shop! By Monday night we are ready to go with a small crowd of 30 or so individuals and Linda with her documentary. The space is so friendly that my associate Naya Sipes is able to present on Strengthening Families Illinois before we get started. The movie plays and everyone munches on popcorn, listening to the documentary and hearing many personal stories of how SB1070 has caused them great pain, forcing them to relocate their families and even resulting in hate crimes.
After the film Linda engages the audience in discussion. ‘What can we do for the undocumented that don’t have a path to citizenship?’ ‘What’s happening now in Arizona?’ ‘How has this bill effected other states’ legislation?’ Event though it is 9:00 at night, the crowd is engaged and wants to learn more. As Linda mentions the New Sanctuary Movement I invite all to attend the Welcoming Immigrant Congregation meetings and encourage them to learn more about the national welcoming movement. One of the audience members is involved in a citizenship workshop on the 28th of April and unannounced I invite her to speak to everyone and pass out fliers; this is an opportunity to get involved right now in out community.
To see all of these people together, asking questions and supporting one another, sharing ideas and volunteer opportunities is exhilarating. While I never even mentioned Uniting America, this is exactly what it’s all about!