Civil Rights and Farmworker Champion Amalia De Aztlan Honored as Woman of the Year

RIVERSIDE – Amalia De Aztlan, who has worked and organized on civil rights and farmworker causes throughout her life, was honored by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors on March 7 as Woman of the Year in the Fourth Supervisorial District.

Citing her inspiring life story and her longtime work fighting for social justice in our communities, specifically on behalf of farmworkers, Supervisor V. Manuel Perez selected De Aztlan, a resident of Bermuda Dunes, for this honor as part of Riverside County’s commemoration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

Amalia De Aztlan Honored as Woman of Year

Supervisor V. Manuel Perez

“Amalia De Aztlan has fought for civil rights throughout her life, as a labor organizer, community organizer, coalition builder, an advisor, a spokesperson and a leader for women, but also a leader for all individuals, including myself, a mentor for me as well,” Perez said in a statement. “Amalia, in her own way, in her own right, is a superhero, and I really appreciate what she has done for me, my family, for our community, and for those that are not even born yet, for those who maybe one day will read about her, because of what she has been able to do.”

De Aztlan attended the Board of Supervisors meeting with her daughters, Tonantzin (Toni) and Zitlali (Lali), and shared how her life experiences shaped her lifelong and ongoing work in the community.

“I became the first president of the striking committee in Coachella because I was 17,” De Aztlan said in a statement. “I did not have the opportunity to go to proms or football games, but I met wonderful leaders: Rosa Parks, I met Ralph Abernathy. I worked with Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and a lot of the people who inspired me to continue the work that was necessary in our communities. Also, my love of our community, my love for justice, equality, democracy, all those things keep me going.”

As a child, De Aztlan came with her family when they crossed into the U.S. in search for a better life, settling first in the community of Thermal. Unfortunately, she couldn’t continue with school as she went out to the fields and started working at 10 years of age.

She experienced firsthand the injustices of brutal long hours, backbreaking labor, seeing women bringing their children to the fields because they lacked daycare, exposure to pesticides, a lack of bathrooms and water.

These experiences led De Aztlan into community organizing, and she became one of the main plaintiffs on behalf of Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers in the Uribe case, a lawsuit addressing the use of pesticides in the fields, an early foundation of her longtime work fighting for migrant field workers and their families.

Her extensive community involvement includes being founder and leader of the Coachella Valley Mexican American Chamber of Commerce and the Riverside County District Attorney Crime Prevention Foundation, and service on the boards of the American Diabetes Association Desert Chapter, the Migrant National Health Task Force, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee of the Desert, which she has served on for the past 36 years.

A strong voice for women’s issues throughout Riverside County, De Aztlan has advanced social, economic and political policies that reflect the priorities of women, has facilitated speaking appearances by high profile women leaders, has educated residents of Riverside County on women’s issues, and has raised funds to provide college scholarships.

De Aztlan continued her education, receiving her B.A. from San Diego State University where she also completed a teaching credential and did graduate work in the field of education.

In addition to her two daughters, Tonantzin and son-in-law Rodney; Zitlali and son-in-law Dr. Fernando Guerra, De Aztlan has a son, Tizoc, and daughter‑in‑law, Brianna.

Photo caption above: Amalia De Aztlan (center) with daughters Toni (left) and Lali (right). (Photo courtesy of Supervisor Perez’s office.


Image Sources

  • Supervisor V. Manuel Perez: Supervisor V. Manuel Perez
  • Amalia De Aztlan, center: Supervisor Perez's office