LAURA CASILLAS: “The Story-Lady” From Guanajuato, Mexico
Being the only girl in a family of five brothers, she quickly learned to defend herself in a world of men by climbing trees, playing marbles, and when necessary using her fists. It was a free life, and beautiful, but this would all change as her country entered a dark period of political oppression and unrest during the 70’s and 80’s. As a teenager she witnessed first-hand the injustice that Mexico was living, where putting up a poster was enough to make you disappear.
Laura knew she could not keep silence. Her fierce love of freedom led her to join a clandestine revolutionary group at age 16 to fight for the defense of human rights. Twice she was jailed, but even this did not stop her from raising her voice for those who could not. She managed to put herself through night school for laborers until years later, now with a daughter, she finally achieved her dream of becoming a human rights’ lawyer and continue her fight in another way.
A violent, abusive husband nearly crushed her spirit, however, until she was saved by stories. She started working at a public library that was always full of children waiting after school for their parents to pick them up, but the books would always go untouched. In order to encourage the kids to read, she started telling them the beginning of different storybooks, and suddenly all the children wanted to read. This was how she discovered that human beings are all made of stories, and that stories are made of the memory of our ancestors, and can strengthen you to find your path and build the dreams of she who tells and they who listen.
Now her militancy is through art.