Angela Cobián calls hers “a truly unique Colorado story.” She is from Denver by way of Mexico. Her parents immigrated to the United States in the late 1980s and, benefitting from President Reagan’s amnesty, they stayed, worked, and built a family. They first lived in Arleta, California, in a three bedroom, one bathroom house. She remembers:
After four years at Colorado College, she came back to Denver to teach a few transformative years teaching at Cole Arts and Science Academy. She continued to teach in Mexico City on a Fulbright Scholarship. Then, Angela turned to community organizing, first in northeast and southwest Denver with the organization Together Colorado and now with the group Leadership for Educational Equity, coordinating work in both Denver and Memphis. Organizing is something of a calling for Angela:
The differences between community organizing and advocacy are nuances but important, and Angela describes them well.
At first, Angela didn’t realize that organizing could be her profession. An internship at the Denver Foundation helped her uncover her passion.
While visiting a home in the neighborhood where she grew up, Angela met a kind and hospitable woman who walked with a limp. When asked about it, the woman told her about a surgery that had gone wrong, one that she felt she couldn’t report because she was undocumented — and when she complained about it, her doctor had threatened to call ICE:
It’s been a journey for Angela from that internship to teaching and then organizing. I asked her what keeps her inspired.
She thinks back to her parents, who benefited from President Reagan’s Amnesty for undocumented immigrants. That was 30 years ago. She’s indignant that, despite three decades of political promises, nothing has changed. Angela says that the community finds this at the same time humiliating and terrifying, given the ongoing increasing number of deportations of undocumented immigrants with traffic violations or no criminal history at all.
Today, Angela is a candidate for the Denver Public Schools’ Board of Education seat in the same neighborhood where she grew up all those years ago. Watch her talk about her run here:
Shot by Kimothy Pikor and edited by Dani Thompson.