By Betty Yu
Longtime members of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), Southwest Workers Union (SWU) and Martinez Street Women’s Center (MSWC), were just named the two new co-anchor organizations for the San Antonio chapter. The San Antonio chapter was one of the charter chapters when the Network was founded seven years ago.
From 2005 to 2011, under the co-anchorship of Media Justice League (MJL) and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, the chapter grew to eighteen organizational members from the social justice, music, immigrant rights and labor community. Local782, one of the signature projects of MJL just finished their citywide local music week that brought together independent musicians, cultural workers and activists for a week of music sets, skills building, and developing healthy cooperative practices in the music community.
Co-anchor, Southwest Workers’ Union (SWU) is an organization of low-income workers and families, community residents, and youth, united in one organizational struggle for worker rights, environmental justice and community empowerment. SWU empowers and organizes its 2,500 members through education, leadership development, and direct action. The aim is to build multi-generational grassroots power to create sustainable systemic change for social, economic, and environmental justice and to build the movement for dignity and justice. One of their cultural organizing projects, Underground Library is filling its shelves with books about the literature, culture and stories from and about their community. The space serves as an organizing, cultural and artists space for community members to come together.
Laura Muraida, Mass Base Political Organizer at SWU says, “In Texas, Southwest Workers Union sees the connection between the unjust media policy environment and the resulting public discourse that has a direct effect on the struggles we are trying to win locally. We see the media justice fight as essential to our other fights.”
Martinez Street Women’s Center (MWSC) is a resource for Women in East and Southeast San Antonio, providing information and services that support the active participation of women and girls in the pursuit of their own physical, emotional, and social well-being. Their target population is women and girls who face barriers accessing health care and education. Their programs target low-to-moderate income women of diverse cultural backgrounds.
Last month, MSWC celebration International Women's Day and a group of local young girls celebrated by featuring their artwork and listening to several prominent writers at an event hosted by University of Texas at San Antonio. The group displayed a mural and photos they took themed, Girls Leading The Way.
Andrea Figueroa, Girl Zone Program Director at MSWC expresses, “I am excited to be part of aprogressive collaboration and continue the important work of media justice in Texas. As a MAG-Net co-anchor for this region and a close collaborator with Local782, I am confident that women, girls, families, and musicians in our community will benefit greatly from our access to highly impactful programs and ideas from across the nation.”
Joleen Garcia, Executive Director of MSWC, points out that “media justice has a long history in Texas, from a strong oral history tradition to independent media-makers, cultural workers, and innovative story-tellers. We are proud to work alongside Local782 and Southwest Workers’ Union to connect a diverse group of organizations to the inspiring work of media justice.”
On a personal note, as Network Manager for MAG-Net, I’m very excited that SWU and MSWC have been voted into co-anchorship of the San Antonio chapter by our MAG-Net Anchors team. San Antonio has deep roots with the media justice movement and it comes full circle with the addition of longtime labor and environmental justice group, SWU and the young girls and women-led center, MSWC partnering to lead this chapter in media change organizing in this region. As we enter our seventh year, MAG-Net has not only expanded significantly across the country, the leadership has gotten stronger, and we truly are moving a local-to-national agenda for media rights and access. I look forward to going even farther with the addition of our new anchors.