Martinez book signing at Fort Garland Museum

Courtesy photo Author, Deborah Martinez Martinez, Ph.D.

FORT GARLAND - Twenty-one women were honored in the new publication Chicana Activists of Colorado: Powerful Women Paper Dolls and Their Stories. On Sept. 12, the Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center, will host a book signing for the San Luis Valley women and the author Deborah Martinez Martinez, Ph.D. on the Museum parade lawn, with one session at 11 a.m. To allow for social distancing, only 25 masked people will be admitted for each session. Call the Museum at 719-379-3512 for reservations. The event is free and open to the public.

The unusual art portfolio book uses the paper doll format to present 21 short biographies of each woman and her work. According to author Martinez, these women and their stories are treasures. Their stories are potent and serve to motivate and guide. The cost of the book is $21.00 and is available from the Fort Garland Museum gift shop and

There are five women from San Luis Valley featured and 16 women from Colorado.

This is the 11th book for publisher Deborah Martinez of Vanishing Horizons and her business partner Robert Pacheco.

It’s more than time for Chicana women to be recognized for their role in making our communities better, and for keeping the struggle for equity and social justice alive said Martinez.

The author uses the paper doll book format to briefly tell each powerful Chicanas story. Instead of fashionable clothes, each doll can use Tools of Activist Women such as a typewriter, bolt cutters, microphone, guitar and hard hat. There is even a podium for the use of the 7 dolls!

In the early 1970s, the face of the Chicano Movement was largely male. Although women were 50 percent of the Activists, they were not called upon to face the media or stand at the podium according to Martinez. Although women were in the fields, on the picket lines, and suffering the bruises and broken bones of police batons, they were not the spokespeople at first Within the decade, Chicanas finally said, I will speak for the issues!

Our logo is Publishing the past for the future she said. I worked at the Pueblo Star-Journal with editor Herbert Foster and I was impressed with how much the newspaper can affect the community by telling or not telling the whole story. I also worked with La Cucaracha alternative newspaper.

Throughout my first career as a college recruiter with LULAC, she said, I realized that no matter how much someone worked for the good of the community, only certain people showed up in the newspaper. It was the racism and sexism of the 1970s. This is my way of combating that slide into anonymity that faced some of these leaders.

Shirley Romero Otero is from San Luis but spent much time in the Grand Junction area working with educational systems and with students. She developed several programs there and returned to San Luis to head up the Moving Mountains program.

Rita Martinez Melgares graduated from Alamosa High School, then attended Omaha Law School to obtain a lawyer’s license. She returned to Colorado many times to work on several cases of social injustice.

Jennie Jaramillo Sanchez, Center, has been involved in early childhood edition, city government and voter registration for decades. Her story is documented in the book Vota Cuenta! Center, Colorado by Shelley Wittevrongel and Jennie Sanchez.

Charlene Garcia Simms played at being a teacher with her cousins in Garcia. She is a leading librarian, author, publisher, literacy developer and former president of the National Genealogy Society of Hispanic America.

Juanita Dominguez is a premier activist in the SLV for farmworker rights, voting rights, and attended the national Poor Peoples Campaign in Washington D.C., 1968. Along the way, she penned the Chicano anthem Yo Soy Chicano.

Their stories help us collect clues from others’ lives about how to navigate our own.

Of course, many women never used the term Chicana but who knew they were the first Mexican/Spanish/India/Chicana to achieve distinction or provide leadership or model activism against sexism or racism. They were women who fought for their place in the American system and, thereby, laid the pathway for the rest of us. We honor these women, their families and their communities.


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