May 15, 2023 - World

Chicana trailblazer Gloria Molina dies at 74

Gloria Molina at an event in Los Angeles in 2011. Photo: Brian To/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Gloria Molina, who was celebrated for blazing paths in California politics and beyond, died on Sunday at the age of 74.

Driving the news: Her daughter, Valentina Martinez, said in a statement that Molina died at her home on Sunday after a three-year battle with cancer.

The big picture: Molina was the first Latina in the California State Assembly, the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

  • She also served in the administration of former President Jimmy Carter.

What they're saying: "For us, Gloria will be remembered in our hearts as our loving mom and grandmother, protective oldest sister, wise tía, and loyal friend," Martinez said in the statement.

  • "Most of all, we will miss Gloria the strong and selfless matriarch of our family."
  • "She was the first one to call when she heard that we needed help, the first to volunteer to organize a family celebration, and the first one to tell us what we needed to hear to get back on our feet."

National LULAC president Domingo Garcia lamented the loss of "a great champion of social justice."

  • "I was privileged to have known her and worked alongside Gloria on many battles for labor equity and equality for our people," Garcia said in a press release.
  • "Also, she was a staunch and unrelenting force for Latinos on issues that included access to housing, health services, investment in Latino barrios, and representation in the halls of power."
  • “The values she modeled continue to inform and inspire many of us including putting community first and always doing the right thing, no matter how difficult," said Miguel A. Santana, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation, a grant-making foundation in California that seeks to advance racial justice.
  • "She reminded us that we are not done fighting for equity until the community sees and feels the difference. She always fought the Good Fight with the ganas, ethics, and integrity that would make the community proud," Santana said.

Background: Molina was born in California in 1948 to Mexican parents. She was the oldest of 10 children.

  • She was a community activist and Chicana feminist, volunteering on several political campaigns before joining the Carter administration in 1977 as a staffing specialist in the Office of Presidential Personnel.
  • Molina was elected to the California State Assembly in 1982. She served until her 1987 election to the Los Angeles City Council, where she sat until she was elected to the county board of supervisors in 1991.
  • Molina was a county supervisor until 2014.

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