5 Latina Activists Disrupting the Political Status Quo

Empowering graphic showcasing five Latina activists challenging the political norms with their advocacy and action.

First Installment of the “Latinas Who Lead” Series

Luz Media

In a new summer series, “Latinas Who Lead,” we’re highlighting Latinas who are at the forefront of social justice movements in the United States, advocating for change and equality in many different ways. From civil rights to environmental justice to entrepreneurial equity, you can bet passionate Latinas are making a significant impact in their communities and beyond. To give them well-deserved recognition and offer sources of inspiration for your own advocacy and activism, here are the first 5 Latina leaders in our series:

Marisa Franco

Portrait of Marisa Franco

Photography courtesy of Marisa Franco

Marisa Franco is a prominent Latino rights advocate and community organizer based in Phoenix, Arizona who fights for immigrant rights. She’s known for organizing campaigns and protests against deportations, detention centers, and discriminatory immigration policies, such as the #Not1MoreDeportation campaign back in 2014. She’s also the co-founder of Mijente, an online organization that serves Latino and Chicano activists, helping them organize their efforts to dismantle systems of injustice and inequity.

The organization has achieved some significant gains against the prison industrial complex, which makes billions of dollars a year through the mass incarceration of Americans and immigrants. Their #notechforice campaign addresses the predatory ways tech companies are making millions of dollars by violating civil rights and allows communities to support the efforts through petitions and other easy actions. They also have a petition tool where anyone can start their own petition for a cause they want to support.

Alejandra Gómez

Portrait of Alejandra G\u00f3mez

Photography shared by ywcaaz.org

As a daughter of Mexican immigrant parents, Alejandra Gómez realized very early on how broken the U.S. immigration system is. This planted the seed of passionate activism that eventually led her to become one of a cadre of highly effective and dedicated Latina community organizers in the state of Arizona.

In the wake of the disastrous SB1070 law in 2010, known as the “show me your papers” law, that allowed Arizona law enforcement to stop and detain anyone at all just for “appearing” to be in the U.S. without proper documentation, Gómez joined thousands of activists who refused to allow her community to be terrorized by the state. The law was partially struck down just two years after then-Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law.

Gómez continued to focus her efforts on immigration rights and community justice and helped organize large-scale efforts to empower Latinos to vote and understand that when enough people come together, their collective actions are powerful and influential.

As the Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Empowerment and LUCHA, she’s been involved in many high-profile community wins, including the ousting of controversial Sherrif Joe Arpaio. More recently, through organizing efforts, she helped get abortion protections on the 2024 ballot and helped secure 150 million dollars for the Arizona Trust Fund to address the affordable housing crisis.

Ana María Archila

Portrait of Ana Mar\u00eda Archila

Photography courtesy of Ana María Archila

Ana María Archila, of Colombian descent, got a lot of national attention back in 2018 during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when she confronted Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator about sexual assault. She’s a dedicated advocate for women’s rights, immigrant rights, worker justice, and LGBTQ rights. She leans heavily on political engagement and grassroots organizing to empower immigrant communities, low-income communities, and women of color.

She’s led several national organizations, including the Center for Popular Democracy and Make the Road New York, where she significantly increased the influence and presence of their members across the United States. As if that wasn’t enough, she ran for Lt. Governor of New York in 2022.

Archilla is now the Co-Director of the New York Working Families Party, where she’s focused on building a multiracial working people’s political party that can enact an agenda that creates real material change for working people in the U.S.

Carmen Perez

Portrait of Carmen Perez

Photography shared by gatheringforjustice.org

Carmen Perez is a Chicana feminist and a devoted activist fighting for civil rights, women’s rights, gender equity, community policing, violence prevention, and more. She’s the CEO of The Gathering for Justice, a nonprofit focused on ending child incarceration and the racial disparities that plague the criminal justice system in the U.S. Perez was also one of the co-chairs of the 2017 Women’s March, the largest single-day protest in the history of the country for women’s rights. Women’s March continues to this day, organizing events around the country to create change.

Raised in Oxnard, California, she frequently returns to her roots to help lead or participate in community events that empower local youth and adults alike. She recently told the VC Star, “Good trouble is when you are out there with people that you love making sure that justice prevails.” She punctuated the words with a laugh. “I find myself getting into good trouble often.”

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez

Portrait of Cristina Tzintz\u00fan Ramirez

Photography courtesy of Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez

As the co-founder of the Workers Defense Project and founder of Jolt, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez has been a tireless advocate for the rights of immigrant workers and Latino youth her entire adult career. Her activism is focused not only on immigrant rights but also on voting rights, universal healthcare, climate change, economic justice, fair wages, fair working conditions, and more.

She’s led successful campaigns for workers’ protection, immigrant rights, and voter mobilization, driving positive change at a local and national level. Many of these campaigns are notable for their creativity and focus on culture. While at Jolt, she helped lead the #PoderQuince campaign, which helped young quinceañeras use their 15th birthday parties as a platform to register and mobilize Latino voters. It’s well known that quinceañera parties are steeped in culture and community, and by leveraging these gatherings, they were able to register and activate tens of thousands of new Texas voters.

To expand her activism Tzintzún Ramirez co-authored a book, “Presente! Latino Immigrant Voices in the Struggle for Racial Justice” in 2014, and ran for the U.S. Senate in 2020 in her home state of Texas. She’s currently the Executive Director of NextGen America, the nation’s largest youth voting rights organization.

These five Latina activists are contemporary examples of resilience, passion, and dedication. Their efforts are a source of inspiration and empowerment in the Latino community, and they’re leading the next generation of Latinas fighting for justice and equality. Keep an eye out for the next installment in the series and join us in getting to know more of these impactful Latinas.

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