Gloria Arellanes: Chicana Activist, Tongva Elder in Forward Motion

Gloria Arellanes as Brown Beret.jpg

Gloria Arellanes, a Brown Berets leader, El Monte resident, and future Tongva Elder, in a sequence of three photo booth images. Arellanes would go on to help bring Chicana activism to the foreground, in part through the breakaway movement she co-founded, Las Adelitas de Aztlán.  

By Brishette Mendoza

In the edited essay collection East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte (2020), Juan Herrera’s “¡La Lucha Continua!: Gloria Arellanes and the Women of the Chicano Movement” spotlights the life and movement leadership of El Monte-raised Chicana activist and Tongva Elder, Gloria Arellanes (born in 1946). A version of the piece is included online as part of the KCET “East of East” series pages online, provided in partnership with the South El Monte Arts Posse.

Arellanes has been featured over the decades by various news publications. An August 23, 2020 Los Angeles Times piece, “The women of the Brown Berets — Las Adelitas de Aztlán — break free and form their own movement” by Vanessa Martínez and Julia Barajas tells the story of the role Arellanes and other female former members of the Brown Berets, a group active in the 1960s and 70s centered on Chicano experience and social justice, and the formation of Las Adelitas de Aztlán by the women as an organization that would be led by them.

Donated by Arellanes, the Gloria Arellanes Papers are housed in the University Library at California State University, Los Angeles. Dionne Espinoza, Cal State University LA Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the Department of Liberal Studies discusses the women’s participation, including that of Arellanes, in the East Los Angeles chapter of the Brown Berets in her 2001 essay, “Revolutionary Sisters': Women's Solidarity and Collective Identification Among Chicana Brown Berets in East Los Angeles, 1967-1970.” Arellanes has participated in multiple oral history interviews, including a 2011 audio six-part oral history interview conducted by Virgina Espino and published by the UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research (9 hours) and a 2016 video oral history interview conducted by David P. Cline for the Civil Rights History Project of the Southern Oral History Program of UNC, University of North Carolina, also the Library of Congress (1 hour, 35 minutes).

Gloria Arellanes: Chicana Activist, Tongva Elder in Forward Motion