‘A force for unapologetic good’—Mayor Karen Bass
Activist-turned-politician Gloria Molina, the first Latina to serve on the Los Angeles City Council and the county’s Board of Supervisors, as well as in the State Assembly, died on May 14. Political and religious leaders recalled her accomplishments this week.
Molina was 74 years old.
“Gloria Molina was a force for unapologetic good and transformational change in Los Angeles,” said Mayor Karen Bass. “As an organizer, a City Councilwoman, a County Supervisor and a State Assemblywoman, supervisor Molina advocated for those who did not have a voice in government through her pioneering environmental justice work, her role as a fiscal watchdog, and her advocacy for public health.”
Molina was first elected to office in 1982, winning the 56th Assembly District seat. She was elected to the L.A. City Council representing the First District in 1987. She was elected to the L.A. City Council representing the First District in 1987.
She was the first woman elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1991, but not the first woman to serve on the board. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy in 1979.
In recognition of her leadership, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors earlier this year renamed Grand Park in honor of Molina, which is now called Gloria Molina Grand Park.
Molina served on the Board of Supervisors for 23 years, from 1991 to 2014, representing a district that included Koreatown, Pico-Union, East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.
Molina’s family was the first to issue a statement on May 14:
“It is with heavy hearts that our family announces Gloria’s passing this evening,” said Molina’s daughter in a statement on the family’s behalf. “she passed away at her home in Mt. Washington, surrounded by our family.”
Molina had been battling terminal cancer for the past three years, according to the statement. “She faced this fight with the same courage and resilience she lived her life. Over the last few weeks, Gloria was uplifted by the love and support of our family, community, friends, and colleagues. Gloria expressed deep gratitude for the life she lived and the opportunity to serve our community.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn issued a statement saying, “It takes an enormous amount of courage to be the first woman in the room and Gloria was the first woman and first Latina in nearly every room she was in across her career. She didn’t just make space for herself–she opened the door to the rest of us. Women in politics, particularly in Los Angeles County, owe a great debt of gratitude to Gloria Molina.”