latina environmental activists

5 Indigenous and Latina Environmental Activists to Celebrate on Earth Day (and Beyond!)

Earth Day is April 22. Thankfully, each year, this day brings attention to the planet, and how it’s imperative that we take care of it. But, righting the wrongs done against the environment is an everyday task, and not enough people are on board to tackle issues such as climate change, packed landfills, clean water, deforestation, and pollution. However, Indigenous and Latina environmental activists are doing the work to keep us informed and represented.

That’s why it’s important to highlight and celebrate the people who do dedicate their lives and work to bettering the planet. And of course, at BoldLatina, we are all about shining a light on the Latina environmental activists who are a part of this beneficial change. So, to shout out Earth Day, and to hopefully inspire you, and all Latinas, to do whatever they can to help the environment, we are sharing five Latina eco heroes to celebrate on April 22, and beyond. 

 

Berta Cáceres

Berta Cáceres was a Lenca woman of Honduras who was an Indigenous leader, environmental activist, human rights defender, and coordinator of Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Indigenas Populares (COPINH – Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organizations of Honduras). She successfully fought against the building of the Agua Zarca Dam at Rio Gualcarque, a site that is sacred  to the Lenca people. In 2015, Berta won the Goldman Environmental Prize for this work, 

The following year, she was assassinated by people tied to DESA (Desarollos Energéticos, the company that was building the dam in Honduras. However. her legacy of standing up for the land of Indigenous peoples, and protecting the environment, lives on. 

Francia Marquez

Afro-Colombiana Francia Marquez is another recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize. Her activism started when, like Berta Cáceres, a dam was planned to be built in her homeland. Her 2018 Goldman Prize came from her work stopping gold mining, which has polluted Rio Ovejas, “a critical waterway for fishing and drinking water.” Francia is also the first Afro-Colombian woman to run for president of Colombia; she is currently the vice presidential running mate of Gustavo Petro. Unfortunately, similar to other Indigenous and Latina environmental activists like Berta Cáceres, Francia Marquez has also been the target of death threats, and an assassination attempt that she thankfully survived. 

Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta is a Chicana and Latina hero. Her activism on behalf of California farmworkers since the 1960s is the stuff of legend. But, while Huerta was fighting for civil rights, she was also fighting for the environment. Her work in speaking up for farmworkers touched on the use of “pesticides and industrial agriculture,” which cause birth defects and cancer. By shining a light on how destructive pesticides could be and demanding they be outlawed, Dolores Huerta “catalyzed the environmental-justice movement.”

Jamie Margolin

 

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It’s important that the torch of activists like Dolores Huerta are passed to the younger generations so they can continue the work. Thankfully, Latinas such as Jamie Margolin are taking issues affecting the environment seriously and making change happen. At the age of 15, Colombian-Jewish Jamie co-founded Zero Hour, an organization with over 200 chapters worldwide, that focuses on youth climate justice. She also was part of a lawsuit against the state of Washington for not allowing her generation the human right to have a normal environment to live in. Jamie Margolin, now 20, was selected as one of People Magazine’s 25 Women Changing the World (2018), Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21, one of the BBC’s 100 Most Influential Women of 2019, and more

Alexandria Villaseñor

 

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Another young Latina environmental activist stepping up to help end climate change is Alexandria Villaseñor. The now 16-year-old Chicana was inspired to make a difference when she witnessed the devastating 2018 Camp Fire in California, and her asthma was triggered by all the smoke entering the home she was in. Alexandria went on to found Earth Uprising, “an international, youth-led organization focused on climate education and youth mobilization in communities around the world.” In 2019, Alexandria Villaseñor was awarded a Rachel Carson Award for Environmental Service, a Tribeca Film Festival Disruptor Award, and Earth Day Network’s Youth Climate Leadership Award, among other honors

V. Alexandra de F. Szoenyi is a writer at BoldLatina, Refinery29, LatinaMedia.co, and Mission Local. Her work focuses primarily on fashion, beauty, and Latinx culture. She has also written on San Francisco for a number of publications including the San Francisco Examiner, Bob Cut Mag, 7x7, and The Bold Italic. Alex recently co-founded the Latina Writers community.