Pasadena Star-News


Pasadena activist writes guide on community organizing

Randy Jurado Ertll of Pasadena recently wrote the book “The Life of an Activist: In the Frontlines 24/7.” (Staff file photo) 

By Sarah Favot, on Twitter


PASADENA >> It was more than a two-hour trip, but the 40-year-old activist wanted to get a “reality check” about the struggles that some people face on a daily basis by riding the bus and walking home.

“I thought, ‘This is so exhausting,’” said Randy Jurado Ertll. “It was sort of like a little adventure, but it reminded me of when I used to take the bus all the time. It’s such a struggle. I think we forget. We have to keep reminding ourselves that other people need help and we should do something to help them.”

Ertll, former executive director of El Centro de Accion Social in Pasadena, hopes his new book, “The Life of an Activist: In the Frontlines 24/7,” will inspire young people to fight inequities.

“A lot of times people become comfortable with their jobs and their lifestyle, that’s why people don’t get involved,” he said. “We need to get young people to see the need to get involved.”

The book offers a glimpse into his experience as an activist and community organizer, especially as a Latino.

“A lot of times there’s a negative stigmatization to it,” Ertll said of activists. “They’re perceived as troublemakers, rabble-rousers, angry, protesting with signs and burning stuff. What my book tries to do is give it a realistic picture and trying to make them human.”

In his book, Ertll writes about well-known activists like Malcolm X, but also about his own experience. He has spent the last 20 years participating in different movements and campaigns spanning environmental, human rights and education issues.

He gives advice for budding activists, like how to raise money, write newspaper columns, organize fundraisers and deal with boards of directors and bureaucracies.

Ertll said he got the “activist bug” while he was a student at Occidental College and in seeing and reading about social inequities.

Over the years, he said, he has sometimes become a target.

“It can happen eventually because you become a thorn to certain people,” he said. “I think that sometimes it’s not even intended to be negative, but it’s perceived to be negative.”

Ertll’s book is dedicated to Jesus Christ. Ertll called Jesus “a powerful activist who revolutionized our hearts and minds.”

One fight that Ertll has been fighting in Pasadena is the distribution of wealth in the city where the priority has been on development and not on services for the poor.

Ertll doesn’t envision himself running for any kind of political office, which is the course many activists take.

“That’s perceived as making it, but I think we have to teach our young people that that’s not the only way to make a change,” he said. “We have to teach young people that you don’t have to be in elected office to make a difference or be important.”

Visit for information on Ertll’s book.

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