En el año mil novecientos treinta y dos

les voy a explicar muy bien

En las montañas de Nuevo México

nació un hombre de ley

At the end of 1997, I transferred from Pennsylvania State University to Sacramento State.  Right away, I became active in Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and started organizing on and off campus.  I met José Montoya and the veteranos of the RCAF that year through my cultural and political activism.  In 1998, I took Art 148: Barrio Art for Ethnic Groups for the first time (I took the class three times) with Ricardo Favela whom replaced José Montoya after his retirement from the Sacramento State’s Art Department.  Ricardo became a mentor, a great friend, and one of my biggest supporters.  Through Ricardo, I also became close to José Montoya.  In the late 90s and early 2000s, I spent a lot of time with the RCAF founders; Ricardo Favela, José Montoya, and Esteban Villa.  I have fond memories of the veteranos and I having a great time at poetry readings, musical performances, art exhibits, cultural events, and Casindio practices at Rudy Carrillo’s home in the Heights.  At Rudy’s, José and the palomilla always had great conversations in between songs and traguitos de tequila.  José often shared his life’s experiences, thoughts, and knowledge about Chicanismo, politics, culture, art, and the role of Chicano artists in la comunidad.  I will always treasure those conversations; they motivated me and continue to motivate me in my quest to empower los de abajo through art, culture, and activism.

Vuela, vuela palomita

dile a la raza querida

que ya murió Don José

que al creador le ha entragado su vida.


This piece is part of a tribute art exhibit titled “A Salute to José Montoya” at the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento.  Exhibit ends on January 12, 2014,