Hey Area is where you ask the questions and we find the answers. Today’s question comes from Monzerrath Gonzalez: “Who is the most influential Latino in the Bay Area?”
If it were up to me I’d say, Carlos Santana. His music is fun to dance to. But I felt like I needed a more sophisticated answer. So I went back to school to meet with my former professor, Jason Ferreira. He’s the chair of the Department of Race and Resistance Studies at San Francisco State University. “I’m going to say Eric Quezada,” says Ferreira.
Eric Quezada? Never heard of him. Professor Ferreira told me Quezada was an activist for housing and immigration rights in the Mission District. He helped create the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition in the late 1990s. Ferreira adds, “He was also the Executive Director of Dolores Street Community Services in the Mission District, providing housing to homeless — the real vulnerable in the community.”
Quezada was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 but continued his work as an activist. In 2008 he decided to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for District 9. Quezada lost the race. He continued to stand up for economic and social justice, but by 2011, the cancer took his life. He was just 45 years old. Professor Ferreira says he remains an influence.
“I think one thing to take away from the example of Eric Quezada and the things he dedicated his life to is to recognize is that power actually lies in the place among the grassroots, among everyday people,” Ferreira concludes.