By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Women's group will honor local activist Lupe Anguiano

Rob Varela / Star staff file photo Lupe Anguiano, a former nun, credits her parents with instilling in her the values that have spurred the efforts for women's equality for which she will be honored Sunday by the Ventura County chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus.

Ventura County Star

A protector of the Earth and advocate for the poor most of her life, Lupe Anguiano is inspired by her deep conviction that she was created in the image and likeness of God.

"This was instilled in childhood by my parents, especially my mother, Rosario Gonzalez de Anguiano. She was my first Christian religious education teacher," recalled the 79-year-old civil rights activist of Oxnard.

She was born one of six children in a small railroad community in La Junta, Colo., and her life was also molded by the fact that her father, Jose Anguiano Estrada, was Mexican and her mother was Spanish.

"My dad's mom worked as a maid for my mom's mother," remembered Anguiano, a former nun. "I was born living and struggling the reality of equality, loving and appreciating my dad and mom's rich ancestral heritage. My mom and dad had a rough time convincing both their parents they were equal."

With that, Anguiano spent most of her life serving others as a national organizer for the United Farm Workers and the founder of the National Women's Employment and Education Model Program, which was later implemented in seven states and helped more than 5,000 women find jobs. She was also a delegate to the historic first National Women's Conference in Houston in 1977, where she, Jean Stapleton and Coretta Scott King read the "Declaration of American Women."

On Aug. 17, Anguiano will be the guest of honor of the local chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus at the first RA! RA! Awards, named after founding mother Roma Armbrust.

"Receiving the award from the Ventura County Women's Political Caucus is a special honor, primarily because I am a founding member of the organization," said Anguiano, who with Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug and others started the national group in 1971.

"Honoring Roma Armbrust is very special because she was a champion of the environment, protecting our Oxnard Ormond Beach along with Jean Harris, an Oxnard resident," said Anguiano, who has received numerous awards for her humanitarian work and whose papers are housed at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

"This is the woman I am today and will remain to the end of my life on earth."

Anguiano's personal life — equality experiences and convections — is what motivates her.

"Society as a whole continues to struggle with the reality of women's equality," said Anguiano, noting the Hillary for President campaign.

"I have been and continue to be disturbed by the unfair treatment Hillary faced in many areas — her brilliant proposals to end the war, confront home mortgages, the economy, healthcare. I can go on and on."

Women still earn 79 cents compared to $1 earned by men for the same job experience, Anguiano emphasized.

Aug. 26 of this year "will celebrate 88 years when women won the right to vote," she said. "Imagine that: It took us that long to win the right to vote."

She believes the Equal Rights Amendment will also help to liberate men.

"The struggle for equality is not a struggle against men, nor is it an effort to put men down," Anguiano said. "I am not a man hater; I enjoy and have always enjoyed male company. The issue for me is women's equality is a God-given right."

Today, her work priorities include helping indigenous women in Mexico to obtain gainful employment and education in the form of technology skills so they are not compelled to seek jobs in the United States.

"I have a great deal of successful experience doing this and am putting my heart and soul in accomplishing this," said Anguiano, who also is a part of Stewards of the Earth, a growing movement of religious leaders working to protect the environment.

As a woman who respects God's gift of life, "I am assuming my shared responsibility of protecting our environment from unhealthy oil and gas proposals, such as the proposed Clearwater Port LNG project that will cause hazardous damage to our ocean and Oxnard community via the proposed pipelines," said Anguiano, who is also helping with the restoration of the Oromond Beach wetlands.

These issues are important because the world is faced with major human relations, economic, environmental and education challenges that need to be addressed through the common good of all people, she said.

"One of the things I enjoy most about living in California is our people's strong solving skills — we jump to the challenge with solutions," Anguiano said.

"We just need to work together to do what we know how to do best: create clean energy, create green jobs that will resolve our economy and improve education by placing dollars in the classroom."

Looking back on her accomplishments and the wisdom she's gained, "my heartfelt message is to challenge all people to listen to their better self," Anguiano said.

"God lives within all of us — listen and don't be afraid. Live your better self."

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