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Mujeres de Conciencia/ Women of Conscience. Spanish English parallel text and photography by Victoria Alvarado. ISBN: 978-0-9796457-7-8. 2008 $75.00 Oversize Hardbound.  

This is an art book with magnificent black and white photos of prominent Latinas who have made definite and long standing contribution to the Hispanic community and the country at large. This photographic essay constitutes an important collective biography as well, with great journalistic insight and integrity into the lives of leading Latina women in the fields of education, science, literature, business, law, the arts, journalism, politics, and other fields of endeavor. This coffee table monograph, which has been published with art-book quality as a collector's edition, provides stunning artistic, B&W photographs of each subject with a parallel biographic journalistic essay in Spanish and English. The biographies explore the life-changing events of each subject, the personal mix of elements, circumstances, and values which allowed these women to set goals and objectives toward most successful careers and contributions to society. There are 72 leading women included in this collective biography and an extraordinary photographic essay offering the most incredible array of role models to inspire, guide and motivate young Latinas.  This title is an important addition to reference collections and individual libraries for they are testament to the vision and values of la mujer Latina.

"Growing up with the knowledge that I was bicultural has always been close to my heart. All my life, I have experienced the richness, the constant energy of two perspectives within me, weaving and intertwining into one integrated self. Being a native Californian blessed with parents from Mexico and Central America, and ancestors from Alta California, I inherited a rich tapestry of values, sensibilities, and visions. In addition, my parents participated in the struggles of San Francisco’s labor unions during the 1940’s. Their experiences provided me with a clear and enduring sense of the value of community and the importance of activism on behalf of all communities. My parents lived their lives with conviction, and always believed that there is great power in persisting when the cause is just. They had faith in the principles of world harmony and well-being for all, and championed the rights of others with great determination. These were early lessons in my life.

Guided by my parents’ values, I chose Social Science as my undergraduate major at the University of California, Berkeley. My graduate studies at California State, Hayward, were in Educational Psychology. With my newly acquired knowledge, I was able to recognize more accurately societal strengths and weaknesses, and I became professionally involved in social welfare. Over the years, in a variety of settings, I have worked in fields that specifically addressed issues of health, education, and economics in culturally diverse communities. Mujeres de Conciencia/Women of Conscience profiles Latinas in California whose knowledge and efforts have affected the well-being of communities in need. They are representative of hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans who are engaged in similar work. Written for the general public, the book offers examples which validate the Latino culture in the United States from its own perspective. It is no coincidence that the Latin American women presented here are of multi-cultural descent. They mirror the rich and varied ethnic background of the populace of Latin America. Some are the great-great-granddaughters of Mexicans who populated California and the Southwest of the United States. Others have roots in Central and South America, and in the Caribbean. Many of these women forged their social conscience and values from personal and family experiences. The stories of their families, together with their own first-hand experiences, contributed to the persons they became. They possess intimate knowledge of the Latino culture, and see the need to preserve it for themselves and others, and for those to come. They pursue endeavors on behalf of disenfranchised communities within the larger society in order to enhance the quality of life for all, firm in the conviction that society as a whole gains when all of its members prosper. Through their efforts, the women profiled in this book, as well as many other activists, are creating paths toward in-depth dialogue about progressive change. As they share their stories, replete with conviction, joy, pride, love, and pain, they emerge as agents for social change.

Mujeres de Conciencia/Women of Conscience represents a broad spectrum of interests and vocations. These women are writers, artists, community activists, lawyers, health specialists, politicians, labor leaders, business entrepreneurs, cultural promoters, and community mobilizers. They reflect many societal structures. Their common denominator is their understanding, respect, and love for all communities the impact of their collective work on the communities they serve; and the transcendence of their work for society as a whole. Truth and idealism hold pride of place in their motives for involvement. They look to themselves as well as to others to speak out for justice. Their biographies chronicle specific endeavors and reveal differences in style. The photographs strive to reveal something of the inner life of each. Although some of these Latinas have moved on to other positions of importance and to new responsibilities, their convictions and hearts have remained dedicated to community improvement. Mujeres de Conciencia/Women of Conscience is a collection of dreams, realities, and aspirations. It is a record of “people power,” presented to celebrate success fueled by intelligence, tenacity, talent, and a commitment to the preservation of human values. While the advocacy presented here focuses on minority issues in the United States, it is important to observe that these women are carrying out an equally strong advocacy with regard to world-wide societal issues. Their belief in the possibility of effecting positive change recognizes no borders. Their separate visions ultimately flow into and interconnect with one another. The purpose of this book is to celebrate their transformative power.

In creating it, I have been guided by a sense of personal responsibility as a Latina/Chicana American. “What is my personal role in disseminating truth?” “How should I apply my principles?” “What can I do to correct misconceptions?” These are the questions that prompted my journey. In Mujeres de Conciencia/Women of Conscience, I have attempted to present a cross section of American women of Latin descent whose lives and work have been a powerful force for societal change in the United States and in the world. I realize there are many others not included here who have also worked selflessly to make positive changes in the world. I hope this book will inspire other authors to continue the task undertaken here, to offer them the recognition they merit. I want to express my gratitude to my husband, John Spence Weir; to my son, Juan Weir; to Roberto Cabello-Argandoña of Floricanto Press; and to the many friends and organizations who have given me so much encouragement, guidance, and support for this project."

Victoria Alvarado



Name Photo English bio Spanish bio

Alma Flor Ada

Lilia Aguilera

Terry E. Alderete

Juana Alicia

Isabel Allende

María Andrade de Ochoa

Vibiana M. Andrade

Judith Francisca Baca

Minnie López Baffo

Edda Caraballo

Gabriela Castelán

Carmen Castellano

Lucha Corpi

Margaret Cruz

Antonia Darder

Diana Nancy Acosta De León

Guadalupe Fierro

Gloria Flores-García

Teresa Foster

Jane García

Lorraine García-Nakata

Belinda Guadarrama

Juana Gutiérrez

Marisa Gutiérrez

Antonia Hernández

Ester Hernández

Inés Hernández-Ávila

Matilde Hicks

Hispanic Education & Media Group

Dolores Huerta

Latina Theatre Lab

Aliza A. Lifshitz

Ortensia López

Yolanda López

Los Cenzontles

Mónica Lozano

Irma Luna

Elsa E. Macías

Lía Margolis

Rosamaría Márquez

María del Pilar Marrero

Arabella Martínez

Elizabeth (Betita) Martínez

Diane G. Medina

Josie Mena

Maritza Mendizábal

Frances Morales

Sylvia Morales

Carmencristina Moreno

Elsa Quiroz-Downs

Sarah Reyes

Mary Helen Barajas Rocha

Diane Rodríguez

Rodri J. Rodríguez

Lucille Roybal-Allard

Elba Rosario Sánchez

Honorable Teresa Sánchez-Gordon

Renée María Saucedo

Claudia Smith

Hilda Solís

Gloria Sotelo

Olga C. Talamante

Eva Torres

Nellie Trujillo

Cristina R. Vásquez

Patricia Wells-Solórzano



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