NOW activists nationwide mourn the passing of long-time NOW activist and former National NOW Secretary Ginny Montes. The Atlanta medical examiner's office said the cause of death was a stroke. Montes, who died October 6 at her home, was 51.
A native of Honduras, and NOW activist for more than 13 years, Montes was the first Latina to serve as a national officer. Elected secretary of NOW in 1991, she also served as treasurer of NOW's Political Action Committee until 1993. Montes served two terms on the national NOW board of directors, chaired the national racial diversity committee and was a former president of Georgia NOW.
Just prior to her stint as national secretary, Montes worked as NOW's government relations director and spearheaded NOW's lobbying efforts. She led NOW's defense of Lani Guinier, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who was nominated by President Clinton to head the Justice Department's civil rights division. The President withdrew the nomination after conservatives criticized Guinier for papers she had written on ways for African Americans to increase their influence in elections.
Montes came to the United States when she was 10 years old. She was a delegate to three Democratic national conventions and frequently lobbied for civil rights groups in the halls of Southern state legislatures. Montes was a staunch supporter and lobbyist for the redrawing of election districts to strengthen representation of people of color.
In 1980 she became director of legislative research for the Southern Regional Council, based in Georgia. For a time she directed the Georgia Housing Coalition, but later returned to the council, where she was a senior consultant. Montes was employed by the Southern Regional Council at the time of her death.
She also conducted leadership training activities for NOW, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the Women's Political Caucus and other groups.
A special memorial service was held in Washington, D.C. on Friday, December 2. In keeping with Montes' commitment to inclusion and diversity within the feminist movement, NOW President Patricia Ireland has announced the formation of the Ginny Montes Fund for Economic Empowerment. Contributions to the fund will be used to help bring young women of color who could not otherwise afford to take part in NOW's Young Feminst Summit on Violence, April 7-9 to Washington, D.C.
Montes is survived by a daughter, Rebecca Albury of Atlanta; her mother, Greta Hyde Montes of Tampa, Fla.; two sisters, Greta Montes of Wayne, Pa., and Jacqueline Zaborski of West Palm Beach, Fla., and three brothers, Robert, of Clearwater, Fla., and Ronald and Hiram, both of Tampa.