Heritage, Heroes, and Goals: A Young Leader’s Perspective

lead image

Artemisio Romero Y Carver

Artemisio Romero Y Carver is a college student, climate activist, poet, and one of our 30 Under 30 Changemakers. He’s almost a full month into his first semester at Washington University in Saint Louis and plans to graduate in 2025 with degrees in Sociology and Studio Art.  

Artemisio is also a 2020 graduate of the New Mexico School of the Arts, where he gained a solid foundation in academics and a strong sense of self.  

“The most important thing that NMSA gave me was heroes. Those heroes were my teachers and my peers. People I could look to as role models, guides, or proofs of concept. Examples of how I can teach, brave, and better the world around me.

Let me be specific, I’m talking about my art teachers, Talon Claybrook, Karina Hean, and Andres Machin—my colleagues and fellow students, Yang Toledo, and Elena Gonzales, among many others. A lot of what I consider my best qualities, I first saw exemplified in them.” 

While Artemisio has grown tremendously, his journey has not always been easy. Thinking about the paths he has taken, Artemisio explains what each step has meant to him.   

“To me, Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a reminder. When I was younger, I tended to run from my heritage, out of internalized racism. At the same time the educational systems around me offered very little true evidence of my Latin history, and that erasure only made it easier for me to erase myself.  

Eventually I ran far enough that I found myself attending a one-semester boarding school out of state. A combination of homesickness and research assignments led me to start reading essays and texts on the borderlands. While at the corner desk of a dorm room, I found that much of what I assumed or was taught about my people, and by extension myself, was not true. 

I conceived of my community as politically absent, until I read about the Chicano Movement. I neededand needour history to understand myself. As a community, we need our history in order to conceive of a better future. This process of unearthing buried beauty, and finding unmarked graves, will take so much longer than a month. So, I treat Hispanic Heritage Month as a reminder for us to learn and create our history.” 

And Artemisio is committed to creating history and making the world around him a better place. He is the co-founder and policy director of Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA). YUCCA is a nonprofit that trains young activists in social and environmental justice organizing and more. Currently, this group is working to advocate for strong climate provisions in President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill. To donate to or learn how to partner with YUCCA, visit their website.  

Artemisio asks for allyship in the classroom.

“Students are facing existential and concrete threats, to their futures, to their communities, and to their lives. Now is a time to be forgiving and patient. It is also a time when educators should be listening as well as teaching.”  

Heritage Month Poem