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Gutiérrez, Juana Beatriz | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Gutiérrez, Juana Beatriz

Historical Note: Juana Beatriz Gutiérrez co-founded the Mothers of East Los Angeles (MELA) with several other women and a priest, Monsignor John Moretta, when a proposal regarding a state prison jeopardized her children’s safety. She was born and raised in Mexico, and later moved to Texas where she married her husband Ricardo. After her marriage she moved to Boyle Heights, where she began to take active roles in helping the community. After co-founding MELA, she formed MELA-SI (Santa Isabel), becoming the president of that organization. Both groups worked to keep their community and families safe, by helping others, protesting against projects, and rising awareness on problems in the community. Gutiérrez had nine children all of whom helped with the projects. She has received awards for her projects in the community, and today MELA is a well known grassroots organization.

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