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Graciela Sanchez
(? - living) U.S.A.

Graciela Sanchez

Activist

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Graciela was raised in the San Antonio barrio, and even after she left to attend Yale, she knew her future was there as well. She received her formal education at Lanier High School, Yale University, the L.B.J. School of Public Policy at the University of Texas, and the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión in Cuba.

She started The Esperanza (Hope) Center for Peace and Justice, a resource center for all the disenfranchised of American society, whether that disenfranchisement comes through race, sexual orientation, or economic status. She is an open lesbian.The mission of the Center is empowerment through art.

Founded in 1987, Esperanza serves as a community center, art exhibition space, and policy change hub. The Center sponsors among its numerous projects MujerArte, a women's pottery co-op, and has hosted talks by members of the Zapatista movement. It was this dedication to art, politics, and political art that led it to be embroiled in controversy.

Bowing to pressure from the right, the city of San Antonio cut all funding from the Center, amounting to over $70,000, much of which was slated for a gay and lesbian film festival and women's music and art festivals. The Center sued the city in a three-year legal battle that had citizens across the nation proclaiming "Todos Somos Esperanza" (We Are All Esperanza) and the mayor of San Antonio announcing in court that he couldn't tell if a piece of art was good without knowing who made it, since only certain types of people can make good art.

Sanchez has held the helm and The Esperanza Center has gained even more prominence for its courageous stand against censorship, which was rewarded when the courts ruled in its favor that the funding cut was discriminatory. The Center was awarded $550,000 in damages and back-funding.

Being executive director is not about money or power for the secretary-less Sanchez. She still helps clean the bathroom at the Center, which was finally able to buy its building during the funding controversy. Sanchez lives in San Antonio with her partner, Gloria.

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Source: http://www.speak-truth.com - et alii

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