Other speakers on the opening panel included Ryka Aoki, trans poet, performer and artist, Robin McHaelen, founder of the True Colors youth conference in Connecticut, Claudia, an undocumented youth activist, Matthew Barragan, staff attorney at MALDEF, and Abbe Lande from The Trevor Project.
There were over 110 workshops throughout the day, as well as entertainment in the evening and free lunch and dinner for all youth. Over 1,500 youth, parents and chaperones attended this amazing free conference organized by LifeWorks Mentoring for LGBTQ youth and their allies!
Dolores Huerta, who was recently awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, spoke about sustaining her energy for social justice work over decades of activism, and the importance of seeing social change as a long term struggle — and having fun while doing it! Her decades of work have allowed her to have such perspective as to see set-backs as temporary. She addressed the bravery of the young people in the audience to come out and be supported by their friends and family and quoted Benito Juarez, the first President of Mexico — “el derecho al respeto ajeno es la paz” (respecting other people’s rights is peace). She used this opportunity to weave social movements together, as she has through her Foundation, connecting women’s rights with LGBTQ rights with worker’s rights with immigrant rights. She also quoted from Cesar Chavez’ Farm Worker’s Prayer “please help us love even those who hate us” as inspiration to keep on keeping on. She of course ended with endorsing California Proposition 30 and showing off her Presidential Medal of Freedom!
I include the video of Ryka Aoki here below, because few things could have followed Dolores Huerta on a panel but this incredible Artists’ Manifest@ that she presented to the young artists of the conference:
Thank you inspiring women, activists, poets and friends!