Legendary land grant activist, civil rights leader and champion of the New Mexican Chicano movement passed away yesterday at 88.
Tijerina’s organization – La Alianza Federal de Mercedes – helped shine a bright light on the history of land theft in NM and the resulting legacy of poverty and segregation that continues to burden Hispano and Native peoples throughout the Southwest. Tijerina, and many activists and organizers whose names we may never know, had an impact on organizing and activism around land, culture and civil rights that reverberate to this day.
In many ways, the work that Chainbreaker is doing now is built upon the foundation laid by la Alianza decades ago. Gentrification is pushing people out of homes and neighborhoods that many have lived in for generations in ways reminiscent of the historical land thefts that Tijerina and his compadres were challenging. As we continue to build our movement for economic and environmental justice today, we are conscious that we are standing on the shoulders of such giants.
From working with other national leaders like Dr. King on civil rights issues, to staging the famous courthouse raid in Tierra Amarilla, Tijerina’s legacy will continue to inspire action and debate for years to come. We will keep his spirit of lucha alive as we pick up the torch that he is laying to rest.
Que descanse en paz.
“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” -Mother Jones.