From Immigrant to City Official, Vernon Woman Makes History

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Luz Martinez was just 12 years old when she left Mexico for the United States, without her parents and not knowing any English.

Like many girls of her generation, she dreamed of someday being a secretary: Today she is the first Latina to be elected to the Vernon City Council.

The road from pre-teen immigrant to councilwoman wasn’t always easy, Martinez told EGP during a recent interview. She said it was hard leaving her single mother and home in Juarez, Mexico behind in 1965, but the sacrifice — made by countless immigrants before and since — was made so she and her younger brother Manuel would have a “better life.”

“I could have made a life in Mexico,” Martinez ventures, “but I knew [coming to the U.S.] was going to be better for us.”

Martinez and her brother had the good fortune to be adopted by an aunt who lived in East Los Angeles, but it was difficult transitioning to life in the U.S., she told EGP.

“It was hard because I didn’t speak a drop of English. Little by little, I tried to speak more and more,” she said, recalling that she and her brother would watch television shows in English to pick up the language. We were determined to learn English and get an education, Martinez remembers.

Read the rest at EGP News