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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Activist puts energies, talents toward gaining women’s rights

Lupe Anguiano  Photo courtesy UCLA CSRC
Lupe Anguiano Photo courtesy UCLA CSRC

By Martina Treviño/nw news editor

Lupe Anguiano  Photo courtesy UCLA CSRC
Lupe Anguiano Photo courtesy UCLA CSRC

The National Women’s History Project has labeled her “protector of the earth and activist for the poor” and will honor her and 13 other honorees in its salute to Women’s History Month.

Lupe Anguiano has quietly left her mark as an activist who selflessly struggles for justice.

Born into a California migrant family in 1929, she graduated from high school in Ventura, Calif., and earned a master’s degree from Antioch College, despite her family’s annual migration.

Anguiano joined Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters in 1949. As a nun, she endeavored for 15 years to improve the social, educational and economic conditions of poor people throughout the United States.

As a United Farm Workers volunteer under the direction of Cesar Chavez, she led the successful grape boycott in Michigan in 1965.

She went on to hold jobs in government agencies including the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

While within the government system, Anguiano observed the agencies that provided federal aid were not contributing to women’s most basic needs: learning skills, finding jobs and contributing to society.
This realization prompted Anguiano to begin the work she is best known for—helping female single parents move out of the welfare poverty cycle. 

Among her major campaigns and platforms, she advocated change in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children policy from “income maintenance” to an “education and gainful employment” policy and change of the term “child care provider” to “head of household.”

Disturbed by the hopelessness of women and children trapped in welfare poverty, Anguiano made national history in 1973, when she moved into a public housing project in San Antonio.

Within six months of her arrival, she had assisted 500 women in leaving the welfare rolls for jobs in the private sector.

This success affirmed her commitment to fight for women’s rights and welfare reform, leading her to found the National Women’s Employment and Education Model Program in 1983.

She enlisted the support of San Antonio businesses to provide skills training for the women. Along with funding for education, Anguiano pushed for upward mobility employment, childcare, transportation and other support services needed to help stabilize the women in gainful full-time employment.

NWEE became a nationally recognized employment and education model, put into action in seven states, helping more than 5,000 female heads of household gain employment.

In addition, Anguiano was one of the founders of the National Women’s Political Caucus with noted feminists Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug.

The three women were key activists in the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment.

In describing her colleague, Steinem recognized Anguiano’s unique leadership.

“ She had come from a migrant family, fought to get an education, joined a religious community for a dozen years and then had the courage to leave when its conservative leaders opposed her civil rights activism,” she said.

Additionally, Anguiano was elected a delegate to the Texas Women’s Conference and to the First National Women’s Conference in 1977, where she, along with Jean Stapleton and Coretta Scott King, read the Declaration of American Women.

Furthermore, she received national recognition when President Ronald Reagan honored her with the 1983 President’s Volunteer Award.

More recently, California Assembly member Pedro Nava selected Anguiano the District Woman of the Year for 2007.

“ Lupe has spent her whole life committed to social justice and environmental issues, whether it was working side by side with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers many years ago or, now, leading the fight to protect our neighborhoods,” he said.

“ Her opposition to BHP means she is taking on the largest mining company in the world. She is fearless. She is our champion … She is an inspiration to the community and a tremendous role model for all,” Nava said.

At 78, Anguiano continues to work daily as a volunteer with the California Coastal Protection Network, fighting to protect the California Coast from fossil fuels, oil drilling and proposed liquefied natural gas tankers, which, according to CCPN, would dump more than 280 tons of pollution annually and would install pipelines in the ocean floor.

Anguiano also volunteers for Pacific Environment, Ratepayers for Affordable Clean Energy, Housing Opportunities Made Easier (HOME), City of Oxnard—Sierra Linda Neighborhood Council and the Saint Rose of Lima Global Outreach to the Poor and numerous other social justice.

Her energies also go toward assisting environmental organizations throughout the United States and the world.

Source: www.ucla.org and www.nwhp.org.

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