Austin: Día de Muertos for Black Lives

By Nélida Tello

On November 1 in Dove Springs District Park, a group of Chicanos and Latinos in Austin hosted a Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) event, honoring the lives of Breonna Taylor, Mike Ramos and the hundreds of Black people killed by the police in the US. Event organizers say they wanted to emphasize unity across different peoples and cultures against oppression, and honor the dead, especially the lives stolen by the imperialist state and those who have sacrificed their lives fighting for a new society.

Three ofrendas (memorial altars) were created by the event organizers and community members. The principal and largest ofrenda was dedicated to all Black people killed by the police. Dozens of photographs and candles were placed on the ofrenda with a sign resembling papel picado, an elaborate design usually made out of tissue paper, that read “Las Vidas Negras Importan,” (Black Lives Matter).

Guests and attendees were encouraged to bring photographs of their loved ones to place on the last ofrenda which was dedicated to “El Pueblo,” the people. Pan de muerto, mirrors, fruits and pumpkins, candles, salt, papel picado, sugar skulls, and marigolds made out of tissue paper adorned each ofrenda.

Another ofrenda, cloaked in red fabric, honored deceased revolutionaries such as Comrade Norah member of the Communist Party of Peru, Edith Lagos a guerrilla in the People’s Guerrilla Army, and Jose Carlos Mariátegui founder of the Communist Party of Peru with the slogan “Honor y Gloria,” (Honor and Glory). Garrett Foster, Michael Forest Reinoehl, Anthony Huber, and Joseph Rosenbaum were also placed on the ofrenda for giving their lives this year defending Black lives in the May Uprisings.

Live music played as people gathered around the ofrendas, talked, ate, and danced. Tacos, beverages, and pan dulce were provided for guests to eat. As people finished eating, a piñata was set up for children to hit.

Speeches were given by various event organizers including, a member of the organization “Pueblos Unidos Xinka,” (United Xinka Peoples) who ended his speech by singing a popular Guatemalan song that spoke about sharing people’s struggles and need for all to fight together.

The event concluded with an explanation of the revolutionary ofrenda, one member emphasized the important contributions of Comrade Norah and Edith Lagos to the People’s War in Peru. After the explanation, the group sang the Internationale, a song that represents and unites the working class of all countries. The last speaker ended the event by explaining how the Communist Party of Peru, taking up Mariátegui’s teaching, went to the most oppressed and organized them against their misery and exploitation.


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