Gracia Molina de Pick, a prominent educator, feminist, and community activist, was born March 21, 1928 in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. Growing up, she was surrounded by a family of political reformers. In 1946 at age 18, she traveled to Paris to attend the founding congress of the International Union of Socialist Youth, and subsequently behind the Iron Curtain to Yugoslavia to help rebuild the country’s railroads. This success marked the beginning of a lifetime of activism
Molina de Pick moved to California in 1957 and proceeded to earn Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Spanish Language from San Diego State University. She pursued doctoral studies at the University of California at San Diego and the University of Southern California in Education Administration. Molina de Pick continued to work in higher education, and is particularly remembered within the San Diego community for being an integral part of the establishment of the nation’s first associate’s degree in Chicano Studies at Mesa College and a founding faculty member of Thurgood Marshall College (Third College) at the University of California at San Diego. Both programs were evidence of Molina de Pick’s endeavors to incorporate a wider scope of educational topics, especially Chicano culture, into the standard curriculum. She also worked extensively to promote bilingual and bicultural education, particularly at Sweetwater Union High School.
Her bilingual education reform led her to become a founding member and the San Diego chapter president of the Association of Mexican-American Educators (AMAE). Molina de Pick was also the first San Diegan appointed to the California Postsecondary Education Commission in 1975.
Gracia Molina de Pick joined the Democratic Party in 1971. Shortly after joining, she helped to found Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional, the first national Chicana Association. She also became an active member and leader of many other organizations devoted to feminism, Chicano rights, civil rights, and labor reform. Her involvements include the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), the Mexican American Women’s National Association (MANA), the National Council of La Raza, the United Farm Workers, and the Chicano Federation. She attended the United Nations Conferences in Mexico City, Nairobi, Copenhagen, and Beijing, the National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, and several Democratic National Conventions. She served on the Census Advisory Committee for the Spanish Origin Population for the 1980 census. Prior to her retirement, she served as a Human Resource Consultant for the Agency for International Development (African Bureau) of the U.S. State Department and for the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. At this stage of her career, Molina de Pick had completed and published Mujeres en la Historia/Historias de Mujereswith Carmen Lugo, a book that includes voices of women absent from the previous historical record.
Molina de Pick’s dedication to serving the community and advocating for the rights of others and her professional accomplishments have been recognized at the local, state, and national levels. Amongst her many honors, Molina de Pick received the Points of Light U.S. Presidential Award from George H.W. Bush, the Community Activist Award from the Chicano Federation, the Teacher of the Year Award from Mesa College, and was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002. Gracia Molina de Pick married Richard Pick and raised three children, Milan, Adele, and Daniel. Her archives, library, and art collection, which includes the images in this program, are in the Special Collections unit of the San Diego State University’s library.