Bay Area Loses Latino Icon to COVID-19

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The Bay Area has lost a Latino icon.

Noe Montoya - who performed with El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista and marched for social justice alongside Cesar Chavez - passed away on Thanksgiving Day due to coronavirus complications.

Montoya was known for helping others and advocating for social justice through his music and his guitar, and he always showed up to perform even if there was no pay in exchange.

He marched alongside Cesar Chavez and other activists, always wearing the United Farm Workers emblem. He played music for farm workers and thanked them for their labor.

When he wasn't marching, he was on stage performing at El Teatro Campesino often playing the role of Juan Diego, the Mexican peasant who witnessed the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

"We’re going to miss him from the bottom of our hearts to the tops of our minds for the rest of or lives," said Luis Valdez, founder of El Teatro Campesino.

“He represented the finest example of our culture. La raza lived in him and he celebrated la raza through his presence, his talents, his kindness. He’s a man of great heart and tremendous courage," he said.

Luis Valdez reacts to the passing of his “Cultural Warrior”, Noe Yaocoatl Montoya.

Montoya was diagnosed with coronavirus recently, but had posted on social media about three days ago that he was feeling much better. Suddenly, the news of his passing hit the community during the holiday.

"It’s a total heartbreak. Noe Montoya was the blood and bone of this teatro," Valdez said.

Montoya was called a cultural warrior, a champion of civil rights and a man who lived a simple life.

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