Unveiling a mural two days before Martin Luther King Day, Casa de Cultura Director Miguel Angel quoted King as saying, “Our goal is to create the beloved community, and this will create a qualitative change in our souls, as well as a qualitative change of our lives.”
Angel said people must become more active in their community.
“The youth are our focus. Dr. King used to say, ‘A community that does not esteem its youth has no future,’ and we take that to heart,” Angel said.
The mural, which lines an entire wall at El Centro Family Health Clinic, has panels depicting Native American contributions to early health practices, which used a balanced relationship with the earth and its gifts.
In another panel, Dr. Carl H. Gellenthien is honored for his unending chase for a cure for tuberculosis. He served as a country doctor who combined research, politics and compassion for his patients as part of his practice.
Jesusita Aragon’s relatives were in the audience to see her remembered in the mural as the last of the traditional Hispanic midwives licensed to practice in Las Vegas. She was responsible for aiding the delivery of 45,000 babies into the world. She was respected in the community for her birthing techniques.
Christina Gonzalez and Rock Ulibarri were co-directors of the mural project and spent many months bringing their vision to life. Casa de Cultura is a group that promotes local culture.
“These public health nurses supplemented and transformed the health care in rural communities, providing needed medical services at a time when access to the dominant Anglo medical system was very scarce in these rural communities,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said Aragon aided in the delivery of her first baby at 13.
Down the hall, you see Dr. Benity Gallardo, the founder of several public health clinics in southern New Mexico. He is accompanied in the picture by Belisario Bejarano and Jessica Barreto, the first New Mexico graduates from the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba.
Land grant activist Reies Lopez Tijerina and Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers Union stand above the roots, which are the basis of strength and connect the people with the wisdom of the ages.
Angel noted that the mural’s theme, “Health is a Human Right,” was something on which local activists would not compromise.
“We demand quality health care for everyone, no exceptions,” he said.