By Pam Paz
“Esperanza” is the Spanish word for hope.
The mission of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, 922 San Pedro Ave., just south of this college, is to “dream of a world where everyone has civil rights and economic justice, where the environment is cared for, where cultures are honored and communities are safe,” according to the center’s website.
The center will host “Book Reading and Platica: ‘Until Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements’” with Clifton Ross, who co-edited the compilation, at 7 p.m. today. This reading is free and open to the public.
The book was released in January by PM Press and was edited by Marcy Rein.
It is a collection of interviews and stories from South and Central American rural and urban poor, youth, women and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning communities.
The center’s program coordinator, Itza Carbajal, said the book sheds light on 20th century social movements in South and Central America.
Carbajal said Ross contacted the center a few months ago because he is doing a cross country book tour through Austin and asked if he could stop by.
The center was founded in San Antonio in 1985 as a social justice organization that drew attention to the conflicts in Central America. As a result, community members began organizing and speaking out against this country’s involvement in Latin America.
Since then, the center has grown into an organization that promotes cultural arts and social justice.
“Basically, what that means is that we’re an art performance space and present different mediums of art, from art exhibits, book readings, concerts and many other different things,” Carbajal said. “We incorporate culture as the root of our programming versus art for aesthetic reasons.”
The center focuses on minority groups.
“Our personal roots are tied to Latino heritage, but we incorporate African-American, African-Caribbean, Arabic, Arabic-American and indigenous peoples,” Carbajal said.
La Voz de Esperanza is the center’s monthly news journal. It includes stories, news, poetry and artwork submitted by the community. The journal can be picked up at the center or found at www.esperanzacenter.org.
The events hosted at the center are listed in this publication.
On April 2, a sold-out concert with more than 300 attendees featured Las Cafeteras, a Los Angeles based Afro-Mexican fusion group.
On April 18, the exhibit “Frack-Aso” will open. This exhibit will present visual arts, installations, literary arts and performance arts focused on the fracking of Eagle Ford Shale. The Eagle Ford Shale is a gas and oil-producing site in South Texas.
“We have a long history of different artists coming in, and each event varies because they’re so diverse,” Carbajal said.
Every November, the center has the Mercado de Paz, or Peace Market as an alternative to retail holiday shopping. The 24th annual Peace Market brought more than 10,000 people, Carbajal said.
The market is a family-friendly event with hundreds of vendors, handmade gifts, art, food, and music
For more information about the center, visit www.esperanzacenter.org.