September 14, 2012
Here’s a dispatch from CultureStrike artist Julio Salgado from the Undocubus, which last week made a big splash at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. His images speak to the sense of solidarity and pride that the campaign seeded in all the participants, which they took home with them as the bus rolled out. All drawings by Julio Salgado.
As we exited El Siloe Church’s gym in Charlotte, N.C. to hop on the UndocuBus for one last time as a group, the humid rain seemed like an emotional prop to our undocumented goodbyes. After weeks of speaking out, civil disobedience, and hanging out together, UndocuBus riders were finally saying goodbye.
Soaking wet, riders shared their most vivid memories of the entire trip. Tears were shed and jokes told. Each of us wondering about what just happened and what was next. Sitting with all these amazing individuals, it was hard not to see myself spending endless hours together on church floors, planning the next actions.
I’ve always been amazed at the leadership behind this journey. From hardworking day laborers and mothers, to veteran organizers, and key activists within the immigrant youth movement, this bus ride was an example of what can be accomplished once we let go of our fear.
I didn’t take much with me, but, aside from the indispensible toothbrush and clean underwear, I brought along a sketchpad. It was an honor to be able to capture small snippets of the UndocuBus life during my two weeks with them.
I always get so excited when I actually get to meet DREAMers I’ve drawn in the past. I first made a drawing of Ireri for the “I am UndocuQueer!” collection. Ireri is one of the sweetest human beings I’ve ever met. Her calm demeanor always brought some piece of mind whenever I’d talk to her. I made this sketch of Ireri and her father Martin, an amazing undocumented activist himself, while we rode the bus from Atlanta, GA to Asheville, N.C.
Miguel is an undocumented activist from Phoenix, AZ. His straight-to-the-point comments and stories about his childhood in Mexicali always kept the conversation going. Miguel was part of the civil disobedience in Arizona that kicked off the UndocuBus ride.
Rosi and her husband Martin Unzueta met up with the UndocuBus around the same time I joined them. Rosi and Martin are Tania and Ireri Unzueta’s parents, two fierce UndocuQueer activists from Chicago. From the conversations I had with Rosi, it’s no surprise their daughters turned out to be the amazing activists they are today.
Where do I even begin to describe Gloria? She is everything our enemies don’t want us to be: an outspoken person who breaks down the injustices that undocumented immigrants suffer in this country. Gloria joined the bus with her daughter Kitzia and together, they were both part of the civil disobedience at the DNC in Charlotte.
The beauty of this ride was its connection to the arts. Fernando is an undocumented activist from Arizona whose passionate hip-hop lyrics were always an inspiring tool at every stop we made.
While we were saying our goodbyes, one of the mothers in the bus mentioned how thankful she was for the UndocuQueers on the bus. According to her, they thought her so much about respect and dealing with other issues she didn’t even think about before. In this image, I captured a conversation with fellow UndocuQueers Chela from Phoenix and Julio from Chicago.
A couple of months ago I received a Facebook message from Tania Unzueta asking me if I wanted to be part of the UndocuBus ride. I’ve admired Tania for a very long time. She was a key individual in my own coming out as both undocumented and queer when she was part of the first undocumented sit-in back in 2010. To my surprise, Kemi Bello, another amazing undocumented activist from Texas, met up with the bus around the time I arrived. Kemi and I had been writing to each other via Facebook, so it was such an honor to finally meet her and get to know her.
“Destined for a world where fear doesn’t exist.”