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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Support Generated at 2009 Día de la Mujer Conference

The 16th Annual Día de la Mujer (DDLM) Conference, celebrating the lives of Latina women, was held Saturday, March 28, 2009. The theme of this year's conference was "La Mujer Maravilla" (Our Everyday Superheroes). The one-day conference hosted workshops for hundreds of Latina women from all over the Midwest. It was held at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, on the campus of Michigan State University.

According to the DDLM web site, "This annual conference has provided a much needed space for Latinas in Michigan to affect social change and to highlight their accomplishments. Keynote presenters, forums and workshops facilitated by Latina women will provide conference participants with networking opportunities for employment, education and sharing life experiences."

The keynote speaker at this year's conference was one of my friends and supporters, Favianna Rodriguez. Favianna is an artist-entrepreneur who has helped foster resurgence in political arts and media both locally and internationally. Named by UTNE Magazine as "one of the countries leading visionary artists," Favianna is renown for her leadership in establishing innovative institutions that promote education and engage new audiences in the arts.

Favianna is renown for her vibrant posters dealing with issues such as war, immigration, globalization, and social movements. By creating lasting popular symbols - where each work is the multiplicand and its location the multiplier - her work interposes private and public space, as the art viewer becomes the participant carrying art beyond the borders of the museum. She has lectured widely on the use of art in civic engagement and the work of artists who, like herself, are building bridges between the community and museum.

Favianna discussed my case during her speech and urged the hundreds of people in attendance to sign a letter or petition addressed to Gov. Granholm expressing support for my release. Below is a video of her remarks.

Later that afternoon a workshop was conducted at the conference inspiring Latina mothers to advocate for their incarcerated family members. My mother, Velia, sat on the panel, along with other wonderful members of The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee to Free Efrén Paredes, Jr. They discussed a wide range of topics involving organizing, public relations, and other ways to gather support and convey their story. They also helped gather postcards of support and passed out hundreds of flyers and dozens of Free Efrén posters to those in attendance.

A special thanks to the conference organizers for their support, and for creating space for us at the event.