Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Goodbye is not Sorro(w)

Bill & Al at Manzanar Pilgrimage in 2000

Bill & Al hand-making "No More Manzanars" political buttons in 2003

NaBloPoMo#20: I met Bill Sorro in 1997 at the Manzanar Pilgrimage. He and his buddy, the Filipino poet Al Robles, drove to Manzanar with a bunch of student activists from City College of San Francisco. That was the first year that we did the Manzanar After Dark (MAD-ness!) program and camp-out, which I created in order to make the pilgrimage events more relevant for young people, with an evening program that centered around intergenerational group discussions focusing on the camp experience and making connections to current day issues, and an open mike with spoken word and performances.

Bill and his group quickly got involved with the organizing of the MAD program and brought 2 vanloads new student activists each year. Over the 8 years that he came, he brought his sons, Guilio and Joaquin, who are among my most favorite spoken word artists/activists/teachers, as well as countless numbers of students eager to learn about the camp experience.

Tony and I immediately connected with Bill. He was one of those revolutionary activists from back in the day. He was involved in the tenants struggle fighting against the evictions of the I-Hotel in San Francisco in the 70s, and was a founder of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. He was passionate about sharing his stories about the I-Hotel (and more) with us and he was an amazing man who made us laugh and taught us about the people's history.

Here is a quote Bill sent me after 9/11 which is still displayed on my original geocities website from more than 5 years ago:

"We too, are trying to figure out our 'collective' moves and response in the wake of 911. Sure did change the course of World History real fast didn't it? Anyway... in spite of the ever present dangers of the country moving quickly to the far right. We got to keep on keepin on... Intensify the Struggle in all our areas of work... we have to dig deeper within ourselves not to let the false patriotism, jingoism and other ideological bullshit push aside all the important gains that we have made in our struggles for civil rights and civil liberties. Sound like 'old hat' don't it? But yes indeed... Freedom IS a Constant Struggle." - Bill Sorro

The last time I saw Bill was at the 2004 Manzanar Pilgrimage (I didn't go in 2005 because Maiya was only 2 months old at the time). I didn't know that it would be our last time seeing each other. He passed away this August in San Francisco. Bill will always be in my heart, especially on the last Saturday in April at Manzanar. My best to Bill's family--Rest in Peace...Out!

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