After 14 years leading LUPE’s community organizing work, almost 20 years in the farmworker movement and many decades of dedication to social justice, Martha Sanchez retires today.
This small-statured, four-foot-ten, formerly undocumented, immigrant woman from Mexico is a giant in the social justice movements of the Rio Grande Valley. Martha has led LUPE members through pueblo-powered organizing victories like Colonia streetlights, rural flooding protections, and higher standards for rural neighborhood developments.
Martha has modeled the dedication and determination required to respond to the community’s issues that impact their lives. Martha explained to the LUPE members that her job was not to “empower” them because she believed they already had the power to achieve fundamental social change. LUPE members only needed to learn how to use their power much more effectively.
We will miss Martha dearly, but we will hold on to the satisfaction of the many years working alongside such a passionate and dedicated immigrant rights leader.
There is no way that words can capture all that Martha has contributed to the movement in the Rio Grande Valley over her decades of commitment to social justice. That won’t stop us from showering her with appreciation and celebrating her journey.
Martha’s commitment to realizing the transformative teachings of Jesus has called her to a life of social justice. Those ideals led her to fight war and poverty, took her to El Salvador to support victims of civil war, and brought her into communion with farmworkers and colonia residents organizing for dignified neighborhoods. We know that her commitment to those ideals does not end with her retirement.
Martha, thank you for what we learned from you and for your contributions to the movement for social change. Your love for LUPE, our members, and the communities we serve is as steadfast as your commitment to social justice. You will always have a home with LUPE and the farmworker movement. As you say, “This is not a goodbye, but rather, hasta pronto.” We will see you again as soon as it is safe to gather in person. ¡Nos vemos en las próximas manifestaciones!
For now, enjoy your free time with your family and grandchildren. We are excited to see where the next 20 years in your movement journey will take you.
Juanita, Esther, Tania, Maricela, Vanessa, Daniel, Jorge, John-Michael and the entire LUPE family
P.S. – If you would like to share your own words of appreciation for Martha, fill out this online form. We will be sure to share your words with her.