January 17: Martha Cotera


Today we’d like to honor the works of feminist and Chicano activist of Martha Cotera, who was born on this day in 1938.

Martha Cotera was one in four children born in Chihuahua, Mexico.  In 1946, she and her mother moved to El Paso, Texas and in 1962, she graduated from Texas Western College (which is now the University of Texas at El Paso).  Martha went on to earn her Master’s degree from Antioch College through a satellite campus.  In 1963, she married Juan Cotera.


Martha began her librarian career in her late twenties and in 1964 was hired as the Director of Documents and Information at the Texas State library.  In this same year, she became involved with the Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations (PASSO).  She, with her husband Juan, also became involved with the farmworkers movement.

Martha and other educators helped form TEAMS – Texans for Educational Advancement for Mexican Americans, a network of educators who provided support for students who participated in the high school walkouts organized by the Mexican American Youth Organization.


In 1968, Martha became the Director of Southwest Educational Development.  This was the year she and her family moved to Crystal City, Texas where she was able to work as a tutor to support the students who were participating in the walkouts in the city.

1970 – 1975

In 1970 Martha helped to found Jacinto Trevino College with the Antioch College Graduate School of Education, which later became Juarez-Lincoln University.  She and Juan, were on faculty until 1975.

In 1973 Martha helped found the Texas Party Women’s Political Caucus and in 1974 founded the non-profit organization “Chicana Research and Learning Center in Austin, Texas.”

Martha Cotera has published several works including, Diosa y Hembra: the History and Heritage of Chicanas in the U.S. and The Chicana Feminist.

We at Heart of Yemalla, feel it’s important to recognize strong women who contribute to the forward movement of women’s issues.   

Martha: feliz cumpleaños… Happy Birthday.