COD Talks: Activist Amalia DeAztlan shares her story



Photo courtesy of Alonzo Roman.

Modeled after the successful TED Talks series, College of the Desert hosted its first ever COD Talks on March 21 in the Dining Hall. In honor of Women’s History month the guest speaker for this event was Amalia DeAztlan, a COD Alumni and lifelong activist who spoke on the importance of women and how they can shape the progress in the community.

DeAztlan was born in Colima, Mexico in 1950 and moved to Thermal with her family in 1960. At ten years old, she began working in the cotton fields. When Amalia was in 9th grade, she dropped out of school to help support her family by becoming a full time field worker. Field workers faced poor conditions and health issues caused by exposure to mysterious pesticides.

Amalia worked alongside Cesar Chavez, a Latino American Civil Rights Activists who co-founded the United Farm Workers union (UFW).  In 1968, farm workers all over including Amalia and her family began striking for better working conditions. When DeAztlan turned 18, she filed a lawsuit against Riverside County asking for disclosure of what pesticides were being used in the fields. Unfortunately it was deemed that because DeAztlan was not a citizen, she did not have the right to sue. Nevertheless her case brought attention to the matter and the pesticide information became public soon after.

“Please get involved!” Amalia told the crowd of COD students and faculty, “If you don’t take control, someone else will.”

With the help of her mentor, Amalia decided to resume her education, she enrolled at COD in 1969. She later graduated from San Diego State University and earned her teaching credentials. DeAztlan has worked her whole life to support marginalized communities through political campaigns, nonprofits, and foundations

Amalia DeAztlan is currently the President of the Democratic Women of the Desert (DWD) foundation. According to the mission statement of DWD they promote social awareness by, “educating members on women’s issues; increasing members’ political awareness; increasing political participation of women in the community; actively recruiting women of all ages to become DWD members; and raising campaign contributions for candidates who support DWD’s Mission.”

“It’s time to make sure we help each other out, especially women, please run for office,” said DeAztlan.

The foundation also provides scholarships for students, for more information visit

The Office of Student Life will announce the date of the next installment of COD Talks in the upcoming weeks.

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