As a teenager, long before Enriqueta Vasquez became a writer and activist, she wrote her first letter to complain against the injustice she saw around her while growing up in the Southwest. Why was she, a Mexican American, not allowed to eat in local restaurants, while her brothers were fighting to preserve their country’s principles of freedom and democracy? Why were Mexican Americans good enough to fight and die for their country but not good enough to be treated as equals at home? And so began Enriqueta Vasquez’s life-long fight for justice.
Highlighting the involvement of women in the Chicano Movement, this anthology combines for the first time in one volume the columns written by Enriqueta Vasquez from 1968-1972 for the path-breaking Chicano newspaper, El Grito del Norte.
Enriqueta Vasquez’s columns written during the peak of the civil rights movement provided a platform for her fierce but hopeful voice of protest. In her column, entitled ¡Despierten Hermanos! [Awaken, Brothers and Sisters!], she used both anger and humor in her efforts to stir her fellow Chicanos to action. Drawing upon her own experiences as a Chicana, she wrote about such issues as racism, sexism, imperialism, and poverty, issues that remain pressing today.
With introductory and concluding essays by editors Lorena Oropeza and Dionne Espinoza, this collection of 44 of Vasquez’s original articles arranged thematically into six chapters seeks to inform and inspire a new generation. Each is annotated to clarify references to people and events, and the editors have included English-language translations of any essays that appeared originally in Spanish. The text is complemented by six drawings by activist and artist Rini Templeton that originally appeared in El Grito del Norte. The volume includes a foreword by John Nichols and a preface by Enriqueta Vasquez.