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Belt Publishing

Trust the Circle: The Resistance and Resilience of Rubén Castilla Herrera

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Paloma Martinez-Cruz
October 24 2023 

When Rubén Castilla Herrera died suddenly in 2019, he left an acute void in Ohio’s grassroots organizing community. Notably at the forefront of many regional social justice campaigns, his life and work still reverberate through the lives of those he fought so hard for: immigrants, refugees, farmworkers, the displaced, and many, many others who refuse to simply comply with injustice.

Synthesizing oral histories, community voices, and ideas from queer Latinidadand migrant worker activism, Trust the Circle details Herrera’s intimate and vulnerable way of seeing the world and his role in it as an agent of change. Here, you’ll learn about:

·      His childhood in Texas and Oregon, where he and his siblings were forced into agricultural labor after the early death of their mother, and where Herrera first encountered the Chicano activism of César Chávez and Dr. José Ángel Gutiérrez.

·      His move to Columbus, Ohio, and the development of his unique circle-based leadership approach.

·      His coming-out as a queer Latinx man in middle age.

·      His tireless work toward the end of his life to help provide sanctuary for undocumented migrants during the Trump administration.

 Marked by the voices and remembrances of those who knew Herrera best, Trust the Circle is a biography about one grassroots organizer and the profound changes he was able to accomplish. But it’s also about the ways that an intersectional and inclusive approach to organizing can be applied anywhere there is injustice.

Paloma Martinez-Cruz, professor of Latinx cultural studies at the Ohio State University, is the author of Food Fight! Millennial Mestizaje Meets the Culinary Marketplace (2019) and Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica: From East LA to Anahuac (2011). 

| 978-1953368607 | October 24 2023 | 28.00 | 6 x 9 | paperback
Distributed by PGW/Ingram. Hardback available for the library market. 

Advance praise: 

"Martinez-Cruz has done a wonderful job of capturing the deep and abiding commitment Rubén Castilla Herrera brought to his work through a compelling multi-vocal testimony from those who worked, stood, fought, and loved alongside him. Trust the Circle's deepest tribute to the radiant soul that Rubén emanated in so many ways is the fact that its pages and the voices they host also carry that energy for justice forward. Like the very best of justice activism, Trust the Circle continues where Rubén left off such that his life and passing is not the period at the end of a sentence, but rather a statement in a dialogue about what matters, an utterance in a conversation about dignity, belonging, and collective power. What better way to honor Rubén Castilla Herrera than to lean into the work to which he dedicated himself in our own thriving circles of action, rest, recovery, and transformation." —Maurice Stevens, author of Troubling Beginnings: Trans(per)forming African-American History and Identity

"Dr. Paloma Martinez-Cruz provides a groundbreaking account of the life and legacy of Ruben Castilla Herrera, from his formative years as a farmworker to his transformation into an activist, highlighting how his queer politics informed his quest for social justice in our food, immigration, and labor system. This is a must read for activists, scholars, students, and those interested in community organizing at both a grassroots and national scale." —Mireya Loza, author of Defiant Braceros: How Migrant Workers Fought for Racial, Sexual and Political Freedom

"Trust the Circle is a powerful collective testimony to our beloved Rubén whose life was marked by incredible resistance and resilience to counter the dehumanizing and death-dealing forces we must all face by learning to see and embody what he always called each of us into—a circle of trust where all lives and all places are sacred. This book remembers Rubén as he would want us to, not as a hero, but as one of our beloved in an ever-growing circle of love that demands resistance and resilience from us all!  We must trust the circle." —Stephen Pavey, PhD, co-author of Eclipse of Dreams: The Undocumented-led Struggle for Freedom and contributor to We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People's Campaign

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