Aurora at 18.
Aurora Levins Morales (b. February 24, 1954) [currently alive] is a Puerto Rican Jewish writer and poet. She is significant within Latina Feminism and “Third World Feminism” as well as other social justice movements.
Aurora Levins Morales was born February 24, 1954 in Indiera Baja, Maricao, Puerto Rico. Her mother, Rosario Morales, was a Puerto Rican, born in Harlem and also a writer. Her father is an ecologist who is of Ukrainian Jewish heritage, born in Brooklyn. Her brother is the artist-activist Ricardo Levins Morales.
Levins Morales became a public writer in the 1970s as a result of the many social justice movements of that time that addressed the importance of giving a voice to the oppressed. At fifteen, she was the youngest member of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union and co-produced a feminist radio show, took part in sit-ins and demonstrations against the Vietnam War, guerilla theatre, women’s consciousness raising groups and door to door organizing for daycare and equal pay. She attended Franciona College in New Hampshire and helped organize and run the local women’s center. Levins Morales also studied at Mills College [an all women’s college in Oakland, CA] and holds a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies and History from Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1976, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she worked at the KPFA Third World News Bureau, reporting on events in South Africa, the Philippines, Chile, Nicaragua and what was still Rhodesia, and on environmental racism, housing struggles, and the movement to get the US Navy to stop bombing Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Levins Morales became part of a radical US women of color writers movement that sought to integrate the struggles against sexism and racism. She began doing coffeehouse readings with other women, organizing poetry series, producing radio programs, publishing in literary journals and anthologies, and eventually becoming one of the contributors to This Bridge Called My Back, where she focuses on depicting the race, class, and gender issues that together shape Puerto Rican women’s identities and historical experiences. Some of her major themes are feminism; multiple identity (Puerto Rican, Jewish, North American), immigrant experience, Jewish radicalism and history, Puerto Rican history, and the importance of collective memory, of history and art, in resisting oppression and creating social change.
In 1986 Morales and her mother and wrote Getting Home Alive, a collection of poetry and prose about their lives as US Puerto Rican women. In part as a result of response to this book, Levins Morales decided to go to graduate school to become a historian. While her dissertation focused on retelling the history of the Atlantic world with Puerto Rican women’s lives at the center, she also did extensive research on the history of Puerto Ricans in California, collecting several dozen oral histories, and preserving early documents of the San Francisco Puerto Rican community. From 1999 to 2002 she worked at the Oakland Museum of California as lead historian for the Latino Community History Project, working with high school students to collect oral histories and photographs, and create artwork and curriculum materials based on them.