Romana Acosta Bañuelos (Los Angeles, California) 1971

Romana Acosta Bañuelos was the 34th Treasurer of the United States, and the first Latina appointed to the position in 1971. She was born in Miami, Arizona on March 20, 1925 to two Mexican immigrants. Romana, along with many others, were illegally deported during the Great Depression, leading her to return to her family’s town of Sonora, Mexico at the age of seven. She married at 15, and went to Los Angeles with her two children. She came to the United States as a single mother with two young children, with very little money and could not speak English. After working as a waitress, she invested her savings into starting her own tortilla business. As her business became more established, she was approached by businessmen looking to start a bank for Mexican-Americans. Her Pan American Bank educated and encouraged Mexican-Americans to invest, and take control of their money, thereby stimulating the economy within her community. When she received the nomination from the Nixon Administration for Treasurer, ICE officials conducted a very publicized raid of her food company’s factory, but the Senate ruled that the raid’s aim was to embarrass Ms. Bañuelos and discredit her nomination for Treasurer. Romana Acosta Bañuelos accepted the nomination and served with great pride. Romana Acosta Bañuelos was a true trailblazer in her community, and her plentiful contributions to the American economy and government will not be forgotten.


– Written by Rachel Tabor