Hernández, Maria (1896–1986)

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Hernández, Maria (1896–1986)

Chicana civil-rights advocate . Name variations: Maria Hernandez. Born in Mexico in 1896; died in 1986.

A prominent figure in Mexican-American history, Maria Hernández devoted her life to the civic, social, and educational concerns of Mexican-Americans. A native of Mexico and a longtime resident of Lytle, Texas, she was a co-founder of the Orden Caballeros of America, a civil-rights organization established in 1929, through which she became a forceful and eloquent voice for the Mexican-American community.

Hernández believed in the power of a solid family unit, and she considered the mother's role pivotal in the formation of her children's character. It was through the mother that the child learned the skills needed to help advance society. "She was quick to point out that whatever Chicanas have achieved in this country has been done through strong family unity and the strength of men and women working together," writes historian Martha Cotera . "She encouraged each of us to act politically to raise the public consciousness because this type of effort is owed to the family, the community and the nation."

Hernández did not shrink from the activism she advocated for others, tirelessly protesting against civil inequities and the inferior, segregated education that Mexican-American children were receiving. In 1970, in addition to her personal campaigns, she was instrumental in the formation of the Raza Unida Party, which helped carry forth her goals.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Hernández, Maria (1896–1986)

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