There’s a certain solace to running; the quiet pit-pat of your feet on the pavement as your breath moves in and out rapidly, surroundings whishing by. The act can feel meditative, cathartic even. For Antonio Tizapa, running has become an outlet for his grief.
Almost six years ago to the day, his son Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño was kidnapped near the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, where he was training to become an educator. Along with 42 other young students — many only 18 years old — Jorge was abducted and disappeared in Iguala, Mexico, while en route to join in the annual commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre in the nation’s capital. Even amid international protests, widespread condemnation, and a substantial human rights investigation, the students’ fate remains unknown, the official account clouded by the refusal of Mexican authorities to hold their own accountable for collusion with drug cartels and a massive coverup.
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“I wanted to do something, a way to protest,” explains Tizapa, who now lives in the US. “And so in sports I found a way to protest in silence.” Yet as TU HIJO ES MI HIJO / YOUR SON IS MY SON: Running for Ayotzinapa 43 — a photography exhibition now on view in the Bronx at Alexander Avenue Apartment 3A (AAA3A) — attests, Tizapa is far from silent about the events of that night.
Soon after he took up running, he founded the group Running for Ayotzinapa 43. Along with other local athletes, Tizapa organizes monthly marches, as well as vigils and runs, in New York City to raise awareness about the missing students and the tens of thousands who have since disappeared in Mexico due to government inaction and the US-fueled drug trade.
Blanka Amezkua, a painter and Bronx resident who runs the apartment-turned-art space AAA3A took notice. “After realizing that various members document the runs and the different events they organize, I decided to invite them to share their documentation in order to spread the word about the missing students,” she explained via email. “I am always amazed [by] how many people have never heard about this case.”
Amezkua met Tizapa by chance on the subway in 2017 and started running with the group a year later. The exhibition offered her another chance to help amplify their calls for accountability.
In tandem with the exhibition, which continues at AAA3A through September 30, Running for Ayotzinapa 43 will host a vigil in front of the Mexican Consulate on September 25. On September 26, the six-year anniversary of the students’ disappearance, the group will lead a march from the United Nations Plaza to Times Square.
As members of Running for Ayotzinapa 43 often chant, “La lucha sigue! Ayotzinapa vive!” (The fight continues! Ayotzinapa lives!)
When: TU HIJO ES MI HIJO / YOUR SON IS MY SON: Running for Ayotzinapa 43 continues through September 30; vigil and march on September 25 and 26, respectively
Where: AAA3A (309 Alexander Avenue, Apt. 3A, the Bronx), Mexican Consulate in New York (27 East 39th Street, Manhattan), and United Nations Plaza (East 47th Street and 2nd Avenue, Manhattan)
See AAA3A and Running for Ayotzinapa 43 for more details.