For Hispanic Heritage Month, we've gathered info on some of our favorite Latinos who, besides their main careers, are known for their activism for causes like immigration equality, farmer's rights, women's rights and more. Stay tuned @lapazchatt for the full series.
Luisa Moreno, born Blanca Rosa Lopez Rodrigues on August 30, 1906, in Guatemala, was a labor organizer and civil rights activist who over the course of her career became one of the most prominent Latina women in the fight for workers rights. Luisa formed an interest in activism when as a teenager, she successfully lobbied for women to be allowed access to higher education in Guatemala. In 1928, she moved to New York City, where she supported her family as a seamstress. Outraged by the industry’s harsh working conditions, low wages, and discrimination, she began to participate in labor strikes, working alongside a group of other Latino labor activists. In 1930, she joined the Communist Party and took the name Luisa Moreno to protect her family from her political activities.
In 1935 the American Federation of Labor (AFL) hired her to organize Florida tobacco workers. From there, Moreno moved on to the newly formed Unified Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA), and was soon elected to the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), becoming its first woman and Latino member. In 1941, she became the international vice president of UCAPAWA and began organizing labour at food-processing plants.
During the late ‘30s and ‘40s, Moreno also advocated for Hispanic Civil Rights. She founded the National Congress of Spanish Speaking Peoples in 1938, helped establish a defense committee to exonerate the indicted youths in the Sleepy Lagoon murder, investigated abuses on the part of servicemen in San Diego, and established a San Diego chapter of the Mexican Civil Rights Committee, speaking against racial profiling, stereotyping and police brutality.
In 1950 Moreno was deported back to Guatemala due to her affiliation with the communist party.