The Backpacks That We Carry on Our Journey Towards Justice
Assistant Dean, Secondary Schools Program,
Cesar A. Cruz is the first Mexican immigrant male to attend Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in the Doctoral Program for Educational Leadership. He is so much more than that, as he demonstrates in this powerful, dynamic presentation. But at 9 years old, entering the U.S. illegally to be reunited with his mother after 4 years, he was filled with a sense of shame. As he grew up in South Central Los Angles, Cruz felt a sense of not belonging with his “undocumented” status. However, he began to learn his heritage and history – and the irony of “undocumented Mexicans begging for citizenship in their ancestral lands” – what is now the Southwestern U.S., Texas, and California. Eventually, Cruz discovered his “keys to resiliency”: finding his voice, learning his history, and learning resilience strategies. He was inspired to begin the Homies Empowerment Program in Oakland, which works to empower trauma-impacted youth, youth who are gang members or are influenced by gangs.
Recorded: October 3, 2014