The name Gloria Molina has been in my consciousness ever since I can remember. As a fourth-generation Mexican American growing up in Los Angeles, it was impossible not to know that name but rather than being a distant figure as so many L.A. politicians have been throughout my life, her name seemed to be connected to a real human being.
My cousin Marie became involved with Molina’s first political campaign, and while I was much too young to understand the politics, I was able to recognize the enthusiasm and respect that her name stirred within my cousin. Marie’s fervor and devotion to Molina was contagious and spread throughout the women in my family giving the name Gloria Molina a demigod status. It would be a long time before I fully understood why this politician resonated with the women in my family, but all I knew was that she was important to them. In retrospect, it seems incredibly thick-headed of me not to have understood immediately, but we all come to revelations within our own time and, for me, maturity and education were vital.
In what turned out to be a very long process of understanding the Mexican American experience through both family folklore and studying Mexican American history at (coincidentally) Molina’s alma mater, California State University, Los Angeles, I got it. I really got it. After being denied visibility by an unwieldy combination of sexism, machismo, poverty, and racism, the women in my family saw Gloria Molina’s success as their success and her visibility and political power as their visibility and political power. Gloria Molina was not only a political representative, she was a representative for all Mexican American women throughout Los Angeles.
When I heard Gloria had passed away, it was impossible for me not to think of Marie who passed away last year. Subsequently, I thought about the countless women from all corners of Los Angeles that Gloria had, consciously and unconsciously, empowered during her journey on this earth. I never had the chance to meet Gloria Molina, but I hope this serves as the thank you I always planned on extending to her.
Thank You, Gloria Molina.