Google/Screenshot by NPR
To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, Google is honoring Luisa Moreno, a Guatemalan-American journalist turned labor organizer who united and mobilized Spanish-speaking communities across the United States around workers’ rights nearly a century ago.
Friday’s Google Doodle shows Moreno holding a megaphone and hugging a group of people. The artist behind the illustration, Juliet Menéndez, who is also Guatemalan-American, told NPR that she wanted to represent Moreno’s work by bringing together people of different races and classes.
“As an immigrant, she came and brought so many people together in the United States,” Menéndez said. “She did a lot to bring the Latinx community together, at a time when it was not defined as such.”
Menéndez added that the imagery of linked arms was intentional to symbolize the strength that lies in solidarity, as well as to salute the protests. She also included the scales of justice and touches of yellow as metaphors for Moreno’s commitment to integrity and shining a light on the truth. Dandelions come out of the megaphone.
“In dandelions, when you blow them, the seeds spread everywhere,” Menéndez said. “I wanted to show that she sowed the seeds of the American labor movement.”
Moreno defended tobacco and food industry workers
Born in Guatemala in the early 1900s (according to several sources between 1906 and 1907), Moreno began organizing as a teenager after learning that women in her country were not allowed to attend college . She protested and lobbied for women to have better access to higher education. Ultimately, the campaign was a success, according to Google.
After a brief stint in journalism, Moreno, still in his 20s, moved to New York. Incidents of police brutality against Latino protesters, as well as poor working conditions in garment factories, prompted her to return to activism.
In 1935, she became a professional organizer with the American Federation of Labor and advocated for the interests of workers across the country, particularly in the food and tobacco industries. Six years later, Moreno was elected vice president of the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of America.
Moreno’s most crucial work included his efforts to unify the Latino community. In 1938, she founded the The Congress of the Pueblo de Habla Española, or National Congress of Spanish-Speaking Peoples, considered one of the first national efforts to mobilize citizens of Spanish-speaking countries in the fight for better working conditions and fair treatment for all Latin American workers.
The federal government eventually took notice of Moreno’s success as a union leader and began threatening to deport her, according to a pamphlet describing Moreno’s situation that was distributed around 1949.
“They can talk about expelling me, but they can never expel the people with whom I worked and with whom things were accomplished for the benefit of hundreds of thousands of workers,” Moreno said in the pamphlet, obtained later by the National Museum. of American history.
Forced to leave the United States, Moreno returned to Latin America in 1950, where she continued organizing in Mexico, Cuba, and Guatemala. She died in 1992.