Lorena Hernandez & Isaiah Reyes-Castro

Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy | Denver, CO | 11th Grade

Inspirational Family Member

Ericka Hernandez was born in Juarez, Mexico in 1981, and her biological grandmother, Isaura, traveled in and out of Mexico to the United States using a work visa. When Ericka was very small, Chela, her mother, got into a fire accident and was unable to care for her. So, she turned to Isaura to take care of her. Ericka was pretty much attached to Isaura until her grandmother had to go to the United States to give birth to her last child. Meanwhile, in 1985, the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed and it legalized most of the immigrants who arrived in the country before 1982. Continuing on, Ericka fell very sick, and as a last resort, she illegally crossed into the border to live with Isaura. When Ericka was a year old, they had begun the adoption process. After that, Ericka had lived in the United States illegally for 15 years. During that period of time, she was visited by social workers where she was during her middle school years. To continue her schooling, she was made a resident in her freshman year of high school and was legally adopted. Isaura and Chela had to meet on a bridge between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.

Essay and Mixed Media Drawing by Lorena Hernandez

Historical Figure I Admire
Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony once said, “The day may be approaching when the whole world will recognize woman as the equal of man.” Susan B. Anthony was one of the most visible women suffragist leaders. Susan is important to the Women's Suffrage Movement because she started as an activist to end slavery, and by raising awareness of women's voting rights. She later formed NWSA (National Woman's Suffrage Association) alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton; the two women were good friends and worked together for over 50 years fighting for women’s rights. She was president of the NWSA. 

Her father owned a cotton mill and became manager of a Quaker farm, and her mother came from a family that fought in the American Revolution. Growing up in a Quaker family, Susan perceived, “Everyone is equal under the eyes of God,”  and let  this mantra guide her throughout her life.  She devoted her life to racial, gender, and educational equality.  Susan had seven brothers. She became a teacher for many years then later moved to New York with her family. Listening to her father’s friends, William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, Ms. Anthony was inspired to do more about ending slavery. Once slavery ended, and all African-Americans were free she turned her focus to women's rights and women’s equality. After the 15th amendment passed giving the right to vote to African-American men, her sense of justice turned toward social and political equality among the sexes. 

After being motivated to end slavery, Ms. Anthony became a suffrage activist. Even when men thought women should not make public speeches, she broke with tradition and did it anyway, which demonstrates her sense of agency and willingness to upset the established norms of her time. Susan amplified her ideas of equal rights by publicly speaking her thoughts at a time when women speaking publically about social and political issues was something others thought was inappropriate. Her passion, determination, sacrifice, and leadership paved the way for the ultimate passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which officially outlawed the denial of voting based on sex. Finally, Susan B. Anthony’s contributions to the Women’s Suffrage Movement were ultimately recognized by the United States by featuring her likeness on a $1 coin in 1979, which was the first woman to appear on a circulated US currency since Martha Washington in 1891.

Essay and Drawing by Isaiah Reyes-Castro

What the Project Means to Me

After hearing my mom tell her story, it is nearly unbelievable what my mom went through at such a young age. I  just learned recently that my grandma is not, in fact, my grandma, but my great-grandma. There’s a lot I need to learn about my mom’s side of the family and it’s one of my favorite things to talk about with my mom, along with our other family members. Learning her story along with my grandma’s is a great bonding experience. Often, it’s hard to communicate with my family because of my lack of fluency in Spanish. Sometimes, it upsets me how much I don’t know about my family but by storytelling, I can at least grasp something of theirs.

Regarding the right to vote, my mom will be the greatest inspiration to me. She is a well-educated lady and even when she doesn’t have the right to vote, she still is aware politically and it goes to show that knowledge is power. I will always admire my mom’s thrive to learn. Even after, having me in her early 20’s, which stopped her from continuing college, she still continues to reach for her goal and go back to school in her late 30s. I can only aspire to be as amazing as a person, learner, as well as a mother, as my mom, Ericka Hernandez.

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