Latino man in T-shirt that says No Human Being is Illegal, talking into a mic

Ruben Castilla Herrera was the uncompromising conscience of central Ohio’s activist community. Wherever there was injustice – Ruben was there, demonstrating, demanding, asserting the rights of the people. Ruben dedicated himself to helping the working people, the underpaid, the Immokalee farmworkers. He was never caught up in personal gain for himself or making political connections.

He didn’t really trust elected public officials. What he understood was that real democracy was in the streets and injustice must be confronted. Public officials that tolerated it had to be called out. He led us in rallies about immigrant rights, sanctuary, police abuse, peace. He was always there with a bullhorn, his thought-provoking speeches inspiring hundreds through the years. Like legendary activists before him – Cesar Chavez, Eugene Debs, Martin Luther King, Jr. – Ruben was ubiquitous and unyielding.  

Ruben also added the heart and soul to the causes he embraced. He reflected deeply about what is going on in the world, trying to make sense of it, teaching a new perspective. His leadership was essential to so many movements. His presence will be missed by so many. He loved much, and was much loved. It is hard to imagine our world without him by our side, giving us strength and courage.

The Free Press honored Ruben with a lifetime achievement award for community activism in 2013. I am honored to have worked with him. We must recommit ourselves to activism and use Ruben’s example as the model to stay strong and go forward.

Ruben accepting the 2013 Free Press Libby Award for Lifetime Achievement in Community Activisteh Solar Stage at Comfest