Trust the Circle: The Resistance of Rubén Castilla Herrera

Paloma Martinez-Cruz



Celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with Ohio State’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Latinx Studies Program, and Wexner Center for the Arts. 

Nov 02, 2023 4:00 PM - Wexner Center for the Arts: Lower Lobby, Heriloom Cafe, and Store 

Join us for community conversations; a book reading and signing; snacks, including tamales, pan de muertos (Mexican bread of the dead), and hot chocolate; ofrendas (altars); button making; and a limited-edition 2023 calavera (sugar skull) poetry book for all ages. All are welcome to celebrate departed loved ones and participate in this tradition



When Rubén Castilla Herrera died suddenly in 2019, he left an acute void in Ohio’s grassroots organizing community. Notably at the forefront of many regional social justice campaigns, his life and work still reverberate through the lives of those he fought so hard for: immigrants, refugees, farmworkers, the displaced, and many, many others who refuse to simply comply with injustice.

Synthesizing oral histories, community voices, and ideas from queer Latinidad and migrant worker activism, Trust the Circle details Herrera’s intimate and vulnerable way of seeing the world and his role in it as an agent of change. Here, you’ll learn about:


  • His childhood in Texas and Oregon, where he and his siblings were forced into agricultural labor after the early death of their mother, and where Herrera first encountered the Chicano activism of César Chávez and Dr. José Ángel Gutiérrez.
  • His move to Columbus, Ohio, and the development of his unique circle-based leadership approach.
  • His coming-out as a queer Latinx man in middle age.
  • His tireless work toward the end of his life to help provide sanctuary for undocumented migrants during the Trump administration.

 Marked by the voices and remembrances of those who knew Herrera best, Trust the Circle is a biography about one grassroots organizer and the profound changes he was able to accomplish. But it’s also about the ways that an intersectional and inclusive approach to organizing can be applied anywhere there is injustice.

Foreword by Pranav Jani

Afterword by Nicholas Pasquarello


Paloma Martinez-Cruz, professor of Latinx cultural studies at the Ohio State University, is the author of Food Fight! Millennial Mestizaje Meets the Culinary Marketplace (2019) and Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica: From East LA to Anahuac (2011). She is the editor of A Handbook for the Rebel Artist in a Post-Democratic Society by Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Saúl García-López (Routledge). Her prose and poetry have appeared in NerterVocesPALABRAAbout Place Journal, and elsewhere. She produces Onda Latinx Ohio to showcase Latinx expressive culture in the Midwest.

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