Jun 2, 2010

The Fourth Mile

By Monique Teal, USSA National Field Director

I am an organizer for many reasons. One: every right and privilege I enjoy was fought for. Whether in the last 100 years or 100 days, my entire life has been shaped by the courage and sacrifice of others. Two: my grandparents taught me that people are worth fighting for, no matter the situation. After watching them work for the rights of everyone from children to recovering addicts to special needs adults, if there was a way they could help, they did. I have long felt a sense of obligation to continue that legacy. Third: I enjoy it. I love the people I meet and the experiences I have. But around the 4th mile of Saturday's march against SB 1070, none of that was enough to keep me walking.

It was in the high 90s (maybe even 100 degrees), I am severely out of shape (community conditions for 100 Alex), and even with the regular water intervals (thanks puente, ndlon & tonatierra), I was completely dehydrated. I was ready to quit, for real. I slowed my pace and was enveloped by the crowd. Then, randomly, a hand grabbed mine. I look down and this kid, maybe 6 years old, drenched in sweat (and something that looked suspiciously like ice cream), his face illuminated with the best toothless grin I have seen in awhile, had taken a hold of me. Honestly, I was taken aback. I mean, I'm not really a "child" type of person. But then I got it. I walked the last couple miles purposefully, sometimes holding Myke's (I never got his name, so I named him) hand, most times not. But I walked the entire route and looking back, I would have walked further because at that moment I realized with full force that nothing I had done or was going to do during my organizing life was about me. I hope Myke continues to share that smile and maybe, someday, he'll start a college term paper with "It's hard to believe one hundred thousand people once had to march six miles in the desert for human rights..."


  1. My family (wife and two kids 11 and 7 y.o) walked those 6 or 7 miles also with temperature of 96 F.
    We really enjoyed it and we will make it again if necessary.

    The DREAM and Immigration reform are caming...
    Let's keep strong
    "Juntos hasta la victoria"