Chicana por mi Raza

Ruth Mojica-Hammer

First Mexican American woman to run for congressional office in the state of Illinois, 1972

Founder, Mexican American Business and Professional Women's Club of Chicago
“Look for something to do, be involved, find a reason to exist!”

As the Executive Director of Spanish Language Programming at a local Chicago TV station Ruth ‘Rhea’ Mojica-Hammer was also the first Mexican American woman to run for congressional office in the state of Illinois. Although she didn’t win, Rhea, went on to manage a successful campaign for the first Latina elected to public office in Illinois, Cook County Commissioner Irene Hernandez.

Rhea, along with Warner Saunders served as co-hosts for “We Are Chicago,” a production of CBS-TV in Chicago. Founder and publisher of El Clarín, a bilingual Chicano publication, she also served on the Census Advisory Committee on the Spanish Origin Population for the 1980 census. Rhea was a founding member of the National Latino Media Coalition, the Mexican American Business and Professional Women’s Club of Chicago and the Mexican American Political Organization of Illinois.

From 1973-77 she served as the first vice-chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC). In 1976 President Jimmy Carter appointed Rhea to the President's Commission for the International Women's Year National Women's Conference held in Houston, 1977. The resolutions created at this historic gathering came to be known as "A Plan of Action for the Women of the United States" and were presented to President Carter in March of 1978.

Rhea underwent a Christian experience in the early 1980s, changed her name to Ruth and went on to apply the lessons learned in the women’s movement to her work in the Evangelical Christian Church. As a member of the United Churches of Christ (UCC), Ruth served as a Corporate Board member of the Board of World Ministries as Chairperson of the Latin American Committee, traveling extensively through Latin and South America.  In 1996, as part of a women's delegation from the UCC Ruth attended the International Women's Year Conference in Bejing China and then the Presbyterian Conference in Seoul Korea.

Ruth retired the first time settling in El Paso Texas where she became involved in local politics, serving on the Mayor's Advisory Council on Aging and working tirelessly on legislation advocating for disabled senior care. She ultimately retired from the Board of Directors of the National Council on International Visitors and as the Executive Director of the El Paso Council for International Visitors.

In 2007 Ruth, along with five other Chicana Feminists appeared in the feature length documentary about their work in the NWPC, ‘Las Mujeres de la Caucus Chicana’. In 2008 Ruth received the Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award from the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

Ruth now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska and is currently writing her memoirs and speaks at colleges and universities on her activist experiences. Ruth's collection is housed at the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.