Francisca Flores Passed Away

Kali Tal (
Sun, 21 Jul 1996 15:15:10 -0400

I am forwarding this message posted to the CHICLE (Chicano Studies) list, since
I thought it would be of interest to SIXTIES-L readers.

Kali Tal

> Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 16:42:05 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Dr. William Flores <>
> Eulogy to Francisca Flores
> On Saturday, April 27th, Francisca Flores passed away. She died of
> a stroke that resulted in a coma. Francisca was always a fighter. She
> lived most of her life with only one lung because of TB. Yet, she never let
> that stop her. She fought for the rights of the Raza and was a well-known
> Chicana activist. She was also my aunt, role model and my mentor. She
> shaped my thinking growing up. Francisca worked on the Sleep Lagoon case,
> helped Carey McWilliams with North From Mexico, edited Carta Editorial, was
> often red-baited during the McCarthy era, helped to hide and organize
> underground screenings of "Salt of the Earth," was a co-founder of MAPA,
> helped on Ed Roybal's campaign, served as the editor and publisher of
> Regeneracion, was a
> founder of Comision Feminil Mexicana, and co-founded and served as the first
> director of the Chicana Social Service Center in Los Angeles. She knew and
> was greatly respected by Ruben Salazar and published a whole issue of
> Regeneracion on his death, including republishing some of his key articles.
> She will be sorely missed.
> Fran was born in December 3, 1913 in Los Angeles and raised in San Diego.
> As she grew of age, the Revolution in Mexico was taking place. San Diego's
> barrios grew from the immigration leaving Mexico. At fifteen Francisca was
> diagnosed with TB. Her older brother (my father's only brother) died that
> same year of TB. She spent ten years (from age 15-26) in an isolation
> sanitarium. TB was common among Mexicanos at that time, especially in Old
> Town San Diego where both of my parents' families lived in Old Town San
> Diego. Their homes were later destroyed for the freeway and for a parking
> lot for a hotel.
> While she was in the rest home, Francisca met many veteranos of the
> can
> Revolution, spoke with them, and learned from them. She also met many
> Socialists and labor activists, who greatly influenced her life. While there
> Freancisca and others formed a group of Mexican women, the Hermanas de la
> Revolucion Mexicana, as part of La Sociedad de la Revolucion Mexicana. But
> she never really felt a part of the group, because she felt that she had to
> be involved as a Mexican American here in the U.S. Still, it was a place for
> Mexican women to talk about politics, something she had never experienced
> before--and it left a mark on her. As she told me, "I knew that the men
> didn't take us seriously. They only wanted us to make tortillas. They
> couldn't accept that we had our own ideas."
> Fran left the rest home in 1939 just before World War II broke out.
> was inspired by the Spanish Civil War and by resistance to Hitler, who she
> saw as a terrible enemy of freedom. She loved the art of resistance and
> revolution of Diego Rivera, Orozco, Siquieros, and of Pablo Piccaso's art in
> Spain. She was inspired by Lazaro Cardenas' nationalization of U.S.
> petroleum interests in Mexico and once told me that "This country cannot
> tolerate Mexicans who stand up for their rights. But as long as Mexico is
> weak and is bullied by the United States, they will treat us badly here. We
> have to fight for our rights here, but we also have to fight for the rights
> of Mexicanos and support Mexico's efforts for self-determination. That's
> why Cinco de Mayo's so important to Chicanos here, because Mexicanos stood
> up to the French, which had the strongest army in the world at the time.
> Mexico may be poor, but it has a strong heart and great pride. And we must
> be proud of who we are."
> After moving to Los Angeles, she became active in the defense
> for
> the Sleep Lagoon defendants. She started writing for La Luz and Mas Grafica
> and became active in local Democratic clubs. In the 1950's she criticized
> HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) and its persecution of labor
> activists and anyone who struggled for their rights. She spent some of
> those years underground, actively fighting against HUAC. She was inspired
> by Martin Luther King and told me "This is a man who will change America and
> we must march with him." In the 1960s, when I was in high school, she
> presented me with a copy of North From Mexico and said "Read this book.
> You'll find yourself here." She also gave me a book on Mayan and Olmec
> civilizations and told me, "This is what Mexico is really about. It will
> make you proud." It did and inspired me to keep reading about Mexico and
> about my history.
> Fran was proud of being Mexican American. In response to a reader who
> asked her why she called herself Mexican-American and what she meant by the
> term, in the third issue of Carta, April 12, 1963, (then called Carta
> Perales) Fran explained, "Mexican-Americans are a heterogeneous group of
> people who are not always alike in color, religion, economic status, or in
> many other respects. They are dark, light, Catholic, Protestant, rich and
> poor. Mexican-Americans are equal to any other ethnic group and yet
> distinctive and superior to all in many ways. It is the Mexican-American
> who possesses the ability to enjoy life to its fullest and to find humor in
> the most trying situations...The Mexican-American has a glorious past and an
> unlimited, bright and wonderful future. As for self-definition, we can
> rightfully say that we are that ethnic minority that transcends and rises
> above all others. We are that ethnic minority that helped to build a strong
> American and who continue to strengthen and influence the American society
> on every front." She once told me that she felt that Chicanos could be the
> bridge for America the link that closes two critical gaps--the chism between
> white and black and the hemispheric rift between North and South America.
> "We are the hope for this country. We are also the hope for America, not
> the country, but the hemisphere."
> She lived her life fighting for justice and equality. She was a
> beacon that shone bright. May her torch be carried by others.
> Bill Flores, Fresno, California
> May 1, 1996
> A Memorial Service will be held in Los Angeles organized by the Chicana
> Social Action Center and Comision Feminil Mexicana Nacional for the end of
> this month. For More Information, Contact: Sandra Serrana Sewell (213)
> 484-1515
> ****************************************************************
> Dr. Bill Flores, Associate Dean
> School of Social Sciences
> California State University, Fresno
> 5340 N. Campus Dr.
> Fresno, CA 93740-0091
> Phone: (209) 278-3013 Fax: (209) 278-7664
> e-mail:
> Web: