As the organizer of the Kitayama Carnation Strike, Lupe Briseño demonstrated the strength and power of Latina leadership in Colorado’s Labor Movement and set the stage for the Colorado Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 70s. Her story is an essential chapter in the history of Colorado, the evolution of Latina feminist leadership, and the struggle for Chicano civil rights.
The Kitayama Carnation Strike was one of the seminal events in 1969 that laid the foundation for the Chicano Movement in Colorado. The impact of the women-led social movement reverberated throughout the state within the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.
But most importantly, Briseño and the Kitayama Carnation Strike demanded that women, as well as all laborers, be treated with the respect and dignity that they deserved. Fundamental human rights were at the heart of their demands – the same rights that are the foundation of many of the social justice movements today: equal-pay-for-equal work, immigration rights, anti-human trafficking, and the “Me Too” movement.
Lupe Briseño, her companions and their role in the Kitayama Carnation strike empowered Latinas in the civil rights, labor, feminist, education, and social justice movements of the 1960s and 70s. Her actions and leadership are the shoulders upon which current Latina leaders stand.