Meet Mayra Islas, who wrote a poem on Judy Baca entitled: The Vision of a Magical Hand

Mayra wrote this poem in 2010, she was the winner of the City of LA Latino Creative Writing Contest.

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  • Mayra Islas

She recently came to visit Judy at SPARC.

February 3, 2014
Email exchange between Mayra and Judy

Dear Mrs. Judy,

First of all, I want to thank you for your time and for your willingness to help me continue my quest toward success.

I am so completely appreciative and in awe by the way you made me feel ‘at home’ during our meeting at SPARC on Friday – especially knowing what a very busy person you are.

Thank you so very much!I hope to see you soon again.

My most sincere gratitude,
Mayra Islas



No thank you Mayra. It was a pleasure to meet you and hear your story. It is so familiar to me.

You are a brave one my dear Mayra, and for that you have my admiration. We will make another time to connect and to welcome you again.

You have a home at SPARC and with all of us who work there to create beauty that tells our stories and transforms our daily realities a little more toward social justice.


The Vision of a Magical Hand

By Mayra Islas

Judith Baca, daughter of Los Angeles
Raised her sacred brushes to awaken minorities’ voices.
With one vision, with one purpose
Through her magical creations of art, she inspired people to act.

Remarkable educator, with faith in her dreams,
She persuaded students of color to find their lost voices
Through paintings that would cry out for justice in her beloved city.

Devoted to drying the tears of brown eyes,
She began to help all races alike to rise from the moaning depths.
With straight and curved lines, she reached into people’s minds.

Warrior of light, who calls us to dream,
With brushes and paint as swords, wall as a shield
She revived the forgotten history of brown and black communities in Los Angeles.
No matter the color, no matter the race
She gathers our hands together and reminds us
That we have a past and a future, that we have a voice
And with a simple touch of art we can all become one.

Unyielding strength of feminine will
With her magical brush, she splashes color
And turns pale walls that used to separate into sparkling walls that unite.
Blazing souls of invisible immigrants
Now they look upon her murals to recall the importance of their presence in this land.

Now “The Great Wall of Los Angeles” reflects the devoted work of young blacks and browns
Whose roots and memories were left behind and burned.
Gratefully we thank Judith Baca for bringing us together as one
Reminding us that “we must dream change before it is possible to achieve it.”

What a pleasure to pronounce your name across the U.S. from northeast to southwest.
You certainly are an inspiration to minorities determined to fight for their rights.
Through paintings of triumph and suffering you led us out of the darkness to the light.
When we were silenced, you taught us to talk without a word.
With a brush now we depict the pains of our town.
What an honor to pay homage to your contributions in our city
And your conviction in the worth of people’s lives.
Just as you said: “Break the mold! Have the biggest vision you can!” And memorialize who you
really are.

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