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Josefina Fierro Borboa; Pioneering Latino Activist

Josefina Fierro Borboa, 84, a pioneering activist who fought for Latino civil rights in the 1930s. Born in Mexicali, Mexico, in 1914 to two Mexican revolutionaries, she came to the United States as a child and grew up in Hollywood. She married screenwriter John Bright, who was eventually blacklisted for supposed communist leanings during the McCarthy era. She helped to organize the Mexican Defense Committee--which led boycotts against businesses that refused to hire Mexican workers--confronted the Los Angeles Police Department over racial brutality and protested anti-Latino legislation in Sacramento. She also became an organizer of the nationwide Congress of Spanish-Speaking People, founded in Los Angeles in 1939, and served as national secretary. In 1943, she flew to Washington to appeal to Vice President Henry Wallace to help stop the Zoot Suit Riots by military personnel against Mexican American youths. Herself labeled a “communist subversive” by the California Committee on Un-American Activities, she moved to Mexico in 1948. Stanford history professor Albert Camarillo, who announced her death, called her “one of the few remaining great leaders of her generation.” On March 2 in Hermosillo, Mexico.


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