A celebration of life

A celebration of life

The Associated Students Organization and the MEChA de Pierce College club hosted a Día de Los Muertos celebration on Nov. 4, from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Zoom.

More than 50 people virtually attended the event to commemorate the lives of deceased family members, celebrities and activists.

MEChA adviser and Chicano studies professor Angelita Rovero said when she was a student at Pierce, it was difficult to connect with the campus because there was no representation. Now with this ceremony, she can inform others on how Día de Los Muertos is a celebration of life.

“It’s not so much just death,” Rovero said. “It’s to celebrate the lives of those who passed on. For the most part, it is to celebrate our loved ones.”

Dean of Student Engagement Juan Carlos Astorga spoke about his late father. 

“My father used to always say to me, ‘Mijo look for the gold in the sky,’” Astorga said. “Día de Los Muertos is an opportunity for us to turn back, to look back and remember the importance of who we have become, given the people who have played a role in our lives and are possibly no longer with us.”

LACCD Board of Trustee member Gabriel Buelna spoke about growing up in East Los Angeles and traveling to Mexico. He said he didn’t see altars celebrating Día de Los Muertos until he attended college, but that he saw them often while in Mexico.

“It goes against American norms, in terms of you are born and you go to heaven but you die,” Buelna said. “In Mexican culture we say ‘We’re communicating.’ Death is a transition and some people ask, ‘Do you really believe it?’ and I tell them yes I do.”

There were two Grammy winners in attendance who performed songs. Artist and activist Martha Gonzalez performed “Todo Lo Que Tengo,” “Pillow Talk” and “Todo es de color.” La Marisoul sang “Nunca Más” and “Todo Cambia.”

Muralist Levi Ponce spoke about paintings he’s created that are on walls throughout Los Angeles County. His first mural is in Pacoima, California. It was made with limited resources and features actor Danny Trejo.

Ponce chose Trejo because after being released from jail, Trejo focused on building his acting career. Ponce thought this was the perfect example of resilience to inspire his community in Pacoima.

“If you think you need a college degree, if you think you need funds, a scholarship, if you think you need a fiscal sponsor or non-profit, you don’t,” Ponce said. “You can start making a difference in your community today with what you have in your hands already.”