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A tribute to a musician-activist

Jenni Rivera

Reed Saxon / Associated Press
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 6:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 6:33 p.m.

With Jenni Rivera's death, the world has lost not only an incredible performer but also a strong individual who moved many with her music, her words and her actions.

Rivera sold millions of records and garnered several Latin Grammy nominations. For many years, her music touched Latinas, with its strong narrative about struggles they could relate to.

Rivera was much beloved not only for her music but also her activism. In 2010, for instance, she immediately took to the stage to speak out against Arizona's SB 1070, the harsh anti-immigrant law that seemed like a slap in the face to her as a person whose music bridged the border.

What this law is trying to do, Rivera said at a 2010 rally, is not only separate families, but they're still trying to discriminate, to single us out. Rivera was not simply a voice for her fans, though. She was a champion for women and children across the United States. Just a few months after showing support for those fighting SB 1070, she was named as spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Rivera's work for women and children stemmed from personal experiences with abuse; in 2007, her first husband was convicted of molesting their daughter and her sister. Stemming from this, Rivera worked hard to help sufferers of domestic violence and abuse. She founded the charitable Jenni Rivera Love Foundation to lend support to women in need.

In the months before she died, many believed the California native was on the verge of becoming hugely popular in mainstream American culture. Her reality show, I Love Jenni, increased her popularity, and a show for ABC was being developed around her.

Still, most people in the United States hadn't heard of her when she died, which says a lot about how segregated we still are culturally.

As we mourn the passing of this great woman, let us not only remember her for music she shared and the entertainment she brought us but also for the work she did to help women, children and anyone she saw in need. Let's remember Jenni Rivera as a voice that would not be silenced, speaking out against injustices she saw. Let's remember her willingness to get into the thick of the crowd and march with the people.

But most of all let us simply remember Jenni Rivera, a woman who accomplished much and who undoubtedly would have accomplished much more had her time not been cut short.

Jose Miguel Leyva is a freelance writer in El Paso, Texas. From the Progressive Media Project, an affiliate of the Progressive magazine.

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