Ana Maria Archila, A Latina Fighting For Democracy From the Heart of the Bronx

Ana Maria Archila BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of The Inquirer.

On September 28, 2018, cameras around the country showed Senator Jeff Flake cornered in an elevator as two women confronted him questioning him about his decision to vote in favor of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

The two women were Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher.

The dramatic moment came a day after Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor with two master’s degrees and a doctorate, testified under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh, as a teenager, held her down, put his hand over her mouth and tried to take off her clothes approximately 35 years ago.

Archila used her body to block the elevator’s mechanized door from cutting off her conversation: “On Monday, I stood in front of your office,” she said vigorously. “I told the story of my sexual assault.”

Flake looked down for most of the encounter, unable or unwilling to stare the women in the eyes.

“I need to go. I need to go to the hearing,” Flake said.

At that moment, Ana Maria Archila embodied the frustration of millions of women in the country who have been victims of patriarchal violence and censorship imposed by a democracy that only serves a few.

Archila is a Colombian immigrant who came to the United States at the age of 17. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she became a staff member at the Latin American Integration Center (LAIC) in Queens, New York. Her aunt, Sara Maria Archila, was the founding director of the organization and a former human rights lawyer in Colombia.

After Sara’s death from cancer, Ana Maria Archila took over the reins of the organization in 2003, becoming a powerful community organizer.

“I remember feeling like if one day I got lost in the streets of New York City, there was only one person who would notice, and that was my dad,” Archila told ABC7NY, “It was only when I found the immigrant rights movement and when I started organizing with other young immigrants like myself that I felt like I both was seen – was kind of a full human and had community.”

Her work involved advocating on behalf of parents with limited English proficiency in Staten Island and Queens, New York. A few years later, she turned all her efforts to advocating for immigrant rights.

After joining Make the Road New York, Ana Maria Archila grew the movement into the largest community group in New York City.

“What brings us together is the idea that in order to have dignity in our lives, we need to make sure that we have all the things that we need to thrive,” said Archila.

As the co-executive director of the center for popular democracy, she is a woman of action.

“Power gets generated when I am in community with others,” she says.

During the Trump era, Archila mobilized her organization against the administration’s anti-immigrant measures, the Puerto Rico issue, and the need for a comprehensive reform of the democratic system in the country.

Today, Archila represents the strength of the Latina immigrant woman and the driving force behind the real change we want to see in the country.