The Sign Catcher
An activist’s incredible life is revealed in this memoir.
by Otilio Quintero
Publication Date: March 31, 2022
Format: Trade Paperback
As a young boy, Otilio Quintero lived with his family in abject poverty in a labor camp in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Later, they moved to a housing project that exposed him to the madness of violence. Despite his difficult childhood, he managed to go to college. But more important to his development was a trip to Mexico in which he was taken in and taught by the Mayan Chol people.
In his memoir, Quintero writes he found his calling at an indigenous ceremony during The Longest Walk, a 3,000-mile march across the country—from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco to Washington, DC—in 1978 by Native Americans to protest federal attacks on their way of life. The marchers carried the sacred pipe to the nation’s capital and ultimately legislative bills detrimental to indigenous people were defeated. His life took a dramatic turn when he found himself in a maximum-security prison facing a possible 20-year sentence!
Through a miracle of faith and hope, Quintero escaped prison and began teaching farmworkers at a community college. He would go on to become a leader in the movement against gang violence, joining forces with organizations such as Barrios Unidos and Homies Unidos. He worked alongside the likes of César Chávez, Harry Belafonte and Tom Hayden, and his efforts to save lives took him to El Salvador, Nicaragua and Venezuela. This compelling read exemplifies the need to make change within before attempting to change the world around us, and Quintero contends the challenges of the current times require our awakening now.