|This post and poem were written by Zayetzy Luna Garcia, student worker at the Iowa Women’s Archives|
Family unity is the center of Latinx culture. It is our base, our guide and our future. However, sometimes, we forget the glue that really keeps our family together: our mothers. While today is not Mother’s Day, it is International Women’s Day and being a mother is a challenge many women still choose to take on today. To celebrate the strength and beauty of Latinx women in Iowa, we present to you some excerpts and photos from the Migration is Beautiful website at the Iowa Women’s Archives in the University of Iowa Libraries.
|Maria Mercedes “Mercy” Aguilera (1936-2013)
Despite her years of experience, many factories dismissed her applications. When she applied to work at International Harvester’s Farmall tractor plant, they refused her application on the basis that they believed Mexican women were too short to work on the assembly line.
|Victoria Manrique Bata (born 1924)
“We joined the craft club and then afterwards I can’t remember who the director was and they asked me if I’d be on the board…I was the only Mexican…All the clubs, like my sewing guild, my quilt guild, the PTA, we went wherever the Mexican people just did not. “
Named YWCA Woman of the Year in 1979.
|Mary Domingues Campos (born 1929)
“We were the first multi-cultural doctor’s office,” Mary remembered. “He was black and I was brown. And we serviced everybody, pink, yellow, blue, whatever color. We had the first bilingual medical practice that I know of here in Des Moines.”
These women took head on the challenge of being Latina in place and time where being a brown woman was not easy. Not only did they persistently fight for their own rights, but they instilled a sense of justice, compassion and honor into their children who would go on to continue fight for women’s and Latinx rights in Iowa and across the country.
These are just a few stories of our hidden Latina history in Iowa. Feel free to continue to be inspired by reading more amazing Latina stories at the Migration is Beautiful website.