Ernesto "Eroc" Arroyo-Montano is an educator, artist, facilitator, organizer, youth worker, community activist and a proud father of three. Known for his leadership in a range of initiatives from urban youth program development and intersectional movements building, he has shown his dedication to racial, gender, economic and environmental justice. His contagious passion, warmth and laughter are perhaps his trademark qualities; qualities that he hopes inspires those around him to join the ever evolving movement for peace and justice.
Eroc was born and raised in Boston (Shawmut), Massachusetts to a resilient, tight knit working class family, led by parents who migrated from the American colony of Puerto Rico (Borinquen). His mother, a fierce, cancer surviving womanist, is the matriarch who supported the family of seven, teaching in the Boston Public Schools for over three decades. His father, a soft spoken, yet passionate, community leader and activist went on to become the first Latino in history elected to the Boston City Council. They raised him with a sense of social justice, including a deep respect for the arts, laying the foundation for his future work. Eroc stands on their shoulders and the shoulders of his ancestors.
A founding member of the critically acclaimed and award winning Hip Hop duo, Foundation Movement, he is an accomplished speaker, performer and workshop facilitator. He has given keynote speeches and performed at major conferences, large rallies, protests, schools, prisons and universities. Over his 15 year career, Eroc's work has taken him to countries across the globe including South Africa, Tanzania, Japan, Palestine, Cuba, France and England. As an artist, Eroc has shared the stage alongside such radical luminaries as: KRS-One, Dead Prez, Angela Davis, Eve Ensler, Rakim, Noam Chomsky, Sonia Sanchez, The Last Poets, Saul Williams, Suheir Hammad and the late great Howard Zinn and Amiri Baraka.
His eyes were most opened to the transnational nature of the social justice movement when he joined the Buddhist monks of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji sect in Japan and thousands of local and global activists on a seventy-day walk from Hiroshima to Tokyo in support of nuclear non-proliferation. Locally, he has done a great deal of work, including the development and implementation of a popular education curriculum at an alternative High School in Boston that interweaves art, racial and economic justice, Hip Hop and non-violence, restorative justice, writing, life skills, and history.
His photography and performance-based art has been featured at the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, the Museum of Science Boston and the Massachusetts State House. His most recent art exhibit “Son of Atabey” is a community based mixed-media project that focuses on using art as a tool to help heal the trauma of colonization, white supremacy, patriarchy, and poverty. He attributes much of his educational evolution to visionaries such as Paulo Freire, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Pema Chodron, Waleed Zaiter, Kahlil Gibran and bell hooks.
Eroc’s practice has been informed by extensive trainings in systemic oppression, social justice (e.g. Racism, Homophobia, Sexism) and restorative justice from organizations that include: National Conference for Community & Justice; People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s "Undoing Racism"; American Friends Service Committee’s "Crisis Conflict Resolution" in Cape Town, South Africa; The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute’s" Circle of Care" Training for Survivors of Homicide; Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault; and Hollyhook Educational Institute/Gibran Rivera on Evolutionary Leadership. He has earned the Community Star Award -"Survivors of Violence", from Teens Against Gang Violence and Recognition of "Excellence in Youth Work" Award from the community based grassroots Critical Breakdown. The City of Boston declared February 27th, Foundation Day, honoring Eroc and Foundation Movement partner Banjineh “Op” Browne for their musical talent and commitment to making positive changes in the city of Boston.
To learn more about Eroc's work at the intersection of healing justice, art, and popular education, check out these highlights:
- “From the Inside Out: Reflections After Incarceration”
A photo-documentary using portraiture to personify crisis in the system of incarceration and its impact on Boston's communities.
- "Holding police accountable, that’s our biggest fight"
Supporting community organizers using tools of popular education and practices of healing justice with communities on the militarized border.
- "What Is Beautiful Never Dies"
Portraits of families honoring murdered love ones in fight for peace, love and justice.
- "I Will Not Conform, I Will Transform"
How are we decolonizing our movements and strategies? What does liberation mean to our movements?