Aurora Castillo

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Aurora Castillo
Aurora Castillo.jpg
Born1914 (1914)
Died1998 (aged 83–84)
ResidenceLos Angeles
AwardsGoldman Environmental Prize (1995)

Aurora Castillo (1914–1998) better known as "la doña-- a title of respect given to her by her largely Latino community--"[1] was a Mexican-American environmentalist from Los Angeles, California. She co-founded the Mothers of East Los Angeles (MELA) in 1984. The MELA organization has fought against a scheduled oil pipeline, and against a planned toxic waste incinerator, and they stopped a waste treatment plant located close to a high school. Castillo was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1995.[2]

Personal Life[edit]

Aurora Castilla was a fourth generation Mexican.[1]

Family has always been important to her. "Three years ago, Arthur Castillo, her only brother, died of cancer at 74. Her twin, who has been married and childless for 40 years, lives in Canoga Park. Another sister, Henrietta, 78, lives with Castillo in their childhood home."[1] Her father, a U.S. Navy regimental sergeant bugler during World War I, was her hero.[1]


Aurora Castillo's career as an activist began in 1984 when her local priest of the East Los Angeles church asked the woman parishioners to protest the construction of a state prison in the neighborhood. The prison would have been the eight in the area and the woman united to form MELA. The women were motivated to protect their children and did so by informing the community of the threat of having a prison in their neighborhood, executing protesting marches every Monday and uniting with other groups like the Coalition Against the Prison in East Los Angeles.[3]

MELA continued to grow in size and experience. In 1987 MELA began a successful fight against the Lancer Project (municipal waste incinerator). In 1988 MELA fought against another toxic waste incinerator. In 1989 MELA united with High School students from Huntington to stop a chemical plant treatment. Currently, MELA takes part in the water conservation program, leads a lead poison awareness program and sponsors higher education programs.[3]


Aurora Castillo was awarded the Goldman Environmental prize in 1995.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d QUINTANILLA, MICHAEL (1995-04-24). "The Earth Mother : Aurora Castillo has long protected her East L.A. Now the environmental efforts of la dona are being rewarded". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  2. ^ Goldman Environmental Prize: Aurora Castillo Archived December 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved on November 15, 2007)
  3. ^ a b Castillo, Aurora. (2008). In A. Becher, & J. Richey, American environmental leaders: from colonial times to the present (2nd ed.). Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing. Retrieved from
  4. ^ "Aurora Castillo - Goldman Environmental Foundation". Goldman Environmental Foundation. Retrieved 2018-03-08.