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A conversation with Carolina Saavedra, Marco Saavedra, and Yajaira Saavedra from La Morada Mutual Aid Kitchen

"Since we opened the doors of our family restaurant in 2009, we have been preserving and sharing our Mixtec culinary and cultural traditions with neighbors and friends, while actively participating in different causes led by the South Bronx community in pursuit of social and racial justice.

We say that “activism is our secret seasoning

Yajaira Saavedra, community organizer and co-owner of La Morada.

Watch the video recording of this event here:

La Morada is much more than a restaurant. The Saavedra family chose its name to signal the space as a refuge and sanctuary for communities in the South Bronx. “A morada is more than a home,” Antonio, Yajaira’s father, says, “when you are working in the fields, a morada is where you take refuge from the rain.”

For years, the Saavedras have been collaborating with grassroots activists that advocate for tenant rights for residents in the Bronx; for labor rights for undocumented workers; for the abolition of the NYPD and ICE; for the liberation of all incarcerated people; for financial aid for undocumented families; for vaccine access for food delivery drivers and restaurant workers, many of whom are undocumented; for food justice; and against food apartheid, environmental racism, and gentrification in the South Bronx.

In mid-April 2020, when the pandemic was at its peak in the city, La Morada opened its doors as a Mutual Aid-Kitchen—running out of food within hours on the very first day. A year later, with the support of friends, accomplices, and collaborators, La Morada has delivered hundreds of thousands of warm, highly nutritious meals to residents in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan; fed the Occupy City Hall protesters during the summer of 2020 and the Teamsters strikers in Hunts Point in January 2021; and helped sustain dozens of food programs in the South Bronx and community fridges around the city.

Join us Monday, May 24 at 7:00 PM (EDT) for a conversation with Carolina, Marco, and Yajaira on mutual aid efforts and accountability, and to mark the launch of the Archives in Common website—a bilingual archive that is attempting to collaboratively document these efforts, led by faculty leader Ángeles Donoso Macaya. At this conversation, we will also hear from other groups that have been collaborating with La Morada and doing mutual aid work in The Bronx, including Ariadna Phillips, founder of South Bronx Mutual Aid.

Click here to Register for this event and access to the Zoom link.

Click here to read more about the efforts of the Mutual Aid Kitchen at La Morada and what Mutual Aid means to them and the communities they serve:

This event is co-sponsored by La Morada and the Archives in Common: Migrant Practices/Knowledges/Memory project as part of the Mellon Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research from the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center CUNY.

About the Participants:

Carolina Saavedra

Carolina Saavedra is an educator at Stone Barns Center’s, a non profit organization whose mission is to catalyze an ecological food culture. She is also the sous chef at La Morada restaurant, where the Saavedra family fights to ensure equality and social justice and to preserve their indigenous roots within the community of the South Bronx. She once considered a career in medicine but left her pre-med studies to pursue her calling and passion for feeding people and preserving food traditions. She moved to San Miguel Ahuehuetitlán, municipality of Oaxaca, Mexico to immerse herself in her indigenous roots and learn her ancestors’ recipes. Upon her arrival back in the U.S., Carolina continued to build her culinary career, competing on Food Network’s Chopped, graduating from the International Culinary Center with honors, and securing a competitive culinary internship at Martha and Marley Spoon. Chef Carolina has represented the U.S. at multiple gastronomy events in Mexico, and she is a sought-after chef who has taught at leading cultural institutions including The Bronx Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carolina was named one of NYC Time Out’s Women of the Year.

Marco Saavedra

Marco Saavedra is a poet and a painter. After having lived as an undocumented immigrant for 27 years, he won political asylum in early 2021, stemming from his immigrant justice work. He works at his family’s Oaxacan restaurant in the South Bronx, La Morada, & enjoys painting and exploring the Hudson Valley with his baby niece. He is co-author of Shadows Then Light and Eclipse of Dreams (2020). His activism is featured in the award-winning film The Infiltrators (2019). A selection of his paintings is currently on view as part of the West Harlem Arts online exhibition, Resilience 2021 (April 8 – May 22, 2021).

Yajaira Saavedra

Yajaira Saavedra is an indigenous activist and organizer fighting for the rights of undocumented immigrants and marginalized communities in the United States. Originally from San Miguel Ahuehuetitlán, Oaxaca, Mexico, Yajaira has been living in the United States with her family for more than 20 years. As a DACA recipient, she has been involved in the undocumented youth movement along with her brother, Marco, focusing on the need for comprehensive migration policy changes and prison abolition. Together with her family, she runs La Morada restaurant in The Bronx. More than a restaurant, La Morada is a space of resistance, a sanctuary, a space of accompaniment and mutual aid. During the pandemic, Yajaira led the efforts to make this one of the first sites to respond to food scarcity in New York City. The Saavedra family turned the restaurant into a soup kitchen and they have been cooking and delivering food nonstop throughout the pandemic with an average of 1000 meals per week. Through all her tireless work, Yajaira underscores the ways in which migration is itself a form of resistance, and centers the maintenance of cultural traditions and language as a form of activism.


Ángeles Donoso Macaya

Ángeles Donoso Macaya is an immigrant professor, researcher and community organizer from Santiago, Chile, based in New York City. She is Associate Professor of Spanish at The Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, 2020-2022 Faculty Lead of Archives in Common: Migrant Practices / Knowledges / Memory and a 2020-2021 Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellow. Her research centers on Latin American photography theory and history, counter-archival production, human rights activism, and feminisms. She is the author of The Insubordination of Photography: Documentary Practices under Chile’s Dictatorship (University of Florida Press 2020), awarded Best Book in Latin American Visual Culture Studies, 2021, and translated as La insubordinación de la fotografía (Metales Pesados, 2021). Ángeles is member of the NYC based collective NiMuertasNiPresas and of colectiva somoslacélula.