The Wise Words of Slain Activist Catherine Han Montoya

By Akiba Solomon Apr 16, 2015

Catherine Han Montoya, a respected organizer who fought for immigrant, Asian and Pacific Islander and LGBTQ rights in the South, was killed in her Atlanta home this past Monday, April 13. Media reports have not yet identified the motive of her alleged killer, Donte Lamar Wyatt, but according to the Georgia Voice Wyatt stabbed another woman in a Waffle House earlier that day.

Among her many pieces of work, Montoya, a self-described "queer Chicana Korean feminist and Broncos fan," organized against Alabama’s anti-immigrant law HB 56, co-founded the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network and created the first National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum chapter in the South.

Digital storyteller Will Coley shared a 2013 interview he did with Montoya and another activist with Colorlines. In the following excerpt of Coley’s transcript, Montoya challenges the idea that organizing is an elite science:

[There’s] always so much talk about the science of organizing and how we professionalize it, [expertize] it, basically make it seem more than it actually is. Organizing to me is just connecting with people. You don’t necessarily need to call it anything else. If you’re a good organizer that means that you’re just having experiences with folks and making a conscious decision to travel on a path together for a little bit. …We’ve made it seem like this cream-of-the-crop type of thing when really organizing is just about connecting with people.

Supporters have set up a YouCaring campaign to raise funds for Montoya’s wife, Meredith. At press time people have donated $31,387 of the $50,000 target. Visit the page for more information about Montoya and details about her memorial service.