Dia de los Muertos Procession: a walk for justice

Surrounded by the darkness of a crisp morning, bundled and waiting with bated breath, members of Centro del Pueblo started the morning with prayers, giving the group an opportunity to speak to and honor the loved ones that they’ve lost. On Nov. 2, we embarked on a 15-mile walk for the second annual Dia de los Muertos procession at 6 a.m. from Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Fortuna, with the thought of our ancestors in mind.

Walking with a large group of people and acknowledging those who have lost their lives due to injustices caused an overwhelming sense of community and a feeling of humility. As long and grueling as the walk felt, as much as our legs hurt and tiredness came in waves, the thought of doing it together as a group overcame all of that. The thought that we were walking for a bigger purpose put everything into perspective.

Community members and organizers of Centro de Pueblo walk on the back roads leading out of Loleta. Photo by Jose Herrera

“I wanted to not come because I was super tired last night, but then I thought about that and how that was my own comfortability,” said Jonathan Gomez, an HSU alumnus student that walked the procession. “Thinking beyond my individualism, I was like, you know what, it’s me feeling super privileged [to not go].”

Throughout the walk, we’d stop every now and then for a break, or if the group dispersed too far. The whole way, people would hold up big and small banners, some with Centro del Pueblo painted on, some had Justice for Josiah and many had the names of people who died.

As we got closer to College of the Redwoods, a Latinx family let us rest for a bit on their property and eat pozole and champurrado that they had made, knowing that we were passing through.

Community members and organizers from Centro de Pueblo take a photo in the home of Reyna Bonilla and Honorina Bonilla. The women provided pozole and champurrado for the participants during a rest break. Photo by Carlos Holguin.

It was those moments that made us forget how sore and tired we were after walking for so long, it made us remember that we weren’t walking from Fortuna to Eureka for the hell of it. We walked to highlight the injustice of people of color.

There were also moments that put the perspective of why we were walking in the first place. Hearing a car drive by with a person chanting “deportation” directly at us, along with occasional racist comments that came from some people as we walked by, set the scene as to why walks like this need to happen.

We sang and chanted as a group, spreading the message that these minority groups need protection, and are here to stay. 

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