¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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Lupe Anguiano

Lupe Anguiano is a civil rights activist known for her work on women's rights, the rights of the poor, and the protection of the environment. A former nun, Anguiano was a national organizer for the United Farm Workers and the founder of the National Women's Employment and Education Model Program, which helped single female parents move beyond welfare poverty. She is a founding member of the National Women's Political Caucus, along with Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, and has worked on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment. Anguiano was a delegate to the historic First Women's Conference in Houston in 1977, where Anguiano, Jean Stapleton, and Coretta Scott King read the "Declaration of American Women."

Guadalupe Anguiano was born in Colorado to Mexican immigrant parents in 1929, who moved to southern California when she was eight years old. After graduating from Ventura Junior College, she spent 1949 to 1964 as a teaching nun in the missionary sisters of Our Lady of Victory. Her classroom experience caused her to become deeply aware of the numerous problems in the Mexican American community, particularly discrimination against migrant workers' children. Later experience as a social worker and youth program organizer in the community convinced her that as a lay person she could do more to improve the lives of barrio dwellers. She therefore left the order to become more intimately involved in Chicano concerns.

Anguiano immediately immersed herself in community work, becoming first a counselor in a California youth program and then coordinator of a federal poverty program in East Los Angeles. In 1966, she was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to create a Mexican American unit within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). As a result of her own experience growing up, she strongly advocated bilingual education and helped write the Bilingual Education Act passed by Congress in 1968.

Mildly disappointed by HEW limitations, Anguiano left Washington in 1967 to join the United Farm Workers (UFW) as an organizer. Soon she was tapped by César Chávez to head the grape boycott in Michigan. After a year with the UFW and a brief stint in the Legal Defense and Education department of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she returned to HEW as a Civil Rights Specialist. She helped implement provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, chiefly by monitoring affirmative action programs. She also became deeply concerned with the status of women and was involved in the hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment.

Anguiano's reputation as a welfare reformer was established in 1973, when she led a group of 100 San Antonio welfare mothers in a "Let's Get Off Welfare Campaign." Subsequently, she was appointed by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops as regional director in the Southwest with headquarters in San Antonio. Continuing to be concerned about women on welfare rolls, in 1977, she cofounded a feminist organization named National Women's Program Development, which she left two years later to create National Women's Employment and Education, Inc., which she headed from 1979 to 1991. During the 1980s, she was also busily involved in a consulting firm she had organized. In the early 1990s, she accepted appointment to the Division of Affirmative Recruitment in the U.S. Department of Personnel Management, where she was able to continue pursuing her concerns for women and minorities. A dedicated leader in the feminist and civil rights movements, she carries on, serving the needs of the poor and voiceless.

Currently, Anguiano heads a consulting firm in the San Fernando Valley and volunteers at the California Coastal Protection Network, the Pacific Environment, and other environmental organizations. She has received numerous awards for her humanitarian work. Her papers are housed at the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Matt Meier and Margo Gutierrez

Further Reading
Anguiano, Lupe. "Employment and Welfare Issues As They Affect Low Income Women." Comunidad 1, 6 (March 1976): 1–2; Newlon, Clarke. Famous Mexican Americans. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1972; Spano, John. "Private Group to Help Welfare Mothers Work." Los Angeles Times, November 22, 1988; Telgen, Diane and Jim Kamp, eds. Notable Hispanic American Women. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.

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