email: marco45220@gmail.com
I met Marco in 2007, when he was a first year student at Kenyon College. He wore a prep school blazer and a tie wherever he went, even when he was sitting in a pile of leaves on Middle Path, painting a watercolor of the chapel. When I ran into him outside of the bookstore, he told me that he’d spent the entire day in his room, reading Howard Zinn. “For class?” I asked him. “No, for fun.” When he lead the prayer before our campus ministry dinners, he would often start by quoting Gerard Manley Hopkins or W.E.B. Du Bois from memory, and I would look at him and wonder why he didn’t seem pretentious. If I had that skill, I’d show it off so that people would think I was cool. But Marco wasn’t showing off, he was just telling you about something that a friend of his had said, and maybe his friends really were Du Bois and Hopkins. He seemed to be in almost constant conversation with them in his head. I didn’t know, at first, that Marco was an undocumented immigrant. I wondered why he always took the Greyhound and never flew, and why he didn’t study abroad his junior year, but I was too ignorant to really put two and two together. He could be very reserved at times, very quiet, but it never occurred to me that this quietness was self-protection.

much credit to George McCarthy for the image above

Then, in the Spring of his junior year, he came and visited me in my office and told me about his undocumented status. On Good Friday, he did one of the meditations during the Stations of the Cross. He talked about being on the Greyhound after Spring Break, coming back to campus. The bus was stopped and immigration officers came aboard and detained two migrant workers. Marco talked about sitting back and watching it happen, about being afraid that the officers would question him, and then knowing, as they led the two migrant workers off the bus, that he should have done something.

Baldwin Sketch

Marco’s spent the last three years doing something, finding ways to do something that weren’t available to him then. He’s done wildly brave things, like infiltrating the Broward Detention Center and self-deporting so that he could march with other activists to the border and demand re-admittance. He’s looked into the face of hatred, and the cold, bureaucratic faces of riot police, and he’s shouted slogans and staged sit-ins and met with members of congress. He’s become less quiet, and certainly less self-protective. But the core of him is still there, the questing mind, the internal conversations with Du Bois and Hopkins and others. And in a way, its this capacity for reflection and gentle conversation that’s the most impressive thing about him. The way he’s never ruled by anger, always curious, always listening. He’s taught me about bravery and risk through his actions, and just as importantly, he’s taught me about grace and gentleness through his person. And because his voice has spent so long gestating in quiet and reflection, it is an astounding voice.


–Rev. Karl Stevens, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Fall 2013


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