We Are the Stories We Tell: Remembering Rubén Herrera
By Dr. Elena Foulis
I started documenting Latina/o/x life in Ohio in 2014 to archive the stories of our community. I wanted to understand the collective and individual identities of the people who have shaped and been shaped by the community in which we live. Oral history provides a historical record of our presence and it allows us to listen to the histories of our Latina/o/x community. It is also a tool to contest incomplete or negative views about marginalized communities. It allows us to participate in a dialogical exchange with the past that gives us a broad understanding of our community’s contribution in all areas of life. In the case of Rubén Castilla Herrera, it gives us a framework of how to move towards social justice. It tells us what has been done, and where we need to continue to push for social change.
I met Rubén years before I collected his oral history. I invited him to talk about his work in my service-learning class and asked him about his role as an activist. He said, “I just show up.” This has always stayed with me. Rubén was many things to many people, but at his core he was a spiritual person who understood connection, empathy, and sustento as key to our relationships with one another. He said, “I don't know if it is spiritual but it's also a kind of a circle of respect, right? and I think that we can't lose.” Indeed, a circle of respect. ¡Hasta la Victoria, Ruben!
Read Rubén's obituary and leave a memory on the Columbus Dispatch.
Watch Dr. Foulis' interview with Rubén in the Oral Narratives of Latin@s in Ohio Collection.
Listen to Dr. Foulis' interview with Rubén on OhioHabla! on Sound Cloud.
Read and listen to "Rubén Herrera Remembered as Champion for Columbus Latino Community" on WOSU's website.