Señora Angelbertha L. Cobb

Sacramento Poderosas 2022

“El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz” –Benito Juarez

Angelbertha Leal Cobb is highly respected locally, nationally, and internationally as an integral part of the Chicanx/Latinx community. For almost 60 years, her commitment to uplift her community, promote culture, and achieve social justice, is evident in the traditions that flourish in the Sacramento Chicanx/Latinx community. She is affectionately called Mama Cobb, or with deference Señora (Sra.) Cobb. Her wealth of knowledge has influenced scholars, activists, educators, community leaders, and people both locally and globally. Sra. Cobb’s early years were formative to her identity. From a young age, she was tasked with exhibiting her family and community’s cultural heritage, and to this day, Sra. Cobb continues to transmit her experiences and cultural practices to youth and communities.

Angelbertha Leal Cobb was born October 1st, 1932. At birth, she was given the name Cozamayotl Xihuatlalli which translates from Nahuatl to English as Rainbow Woman of the Earth. She is from Municipio de Cuetzalan, the highest mountains of Puebla, yMéxico. Sra. Cobb’s ancestry is Mexica, direct descendant of the Aztecs. At 90-years of age, she is an academic scholar who possesses a wealth of indigenous knowledge, including history and traditions. She is a living codex, a cultural encyclopedia.

At an early age Sra. Cobb’s dancing talent was discovered by Maestro Florencio Yescas, an indigene tribal master of Danzante Azteca. Maestro introduced Sra. Cobb’s to La Academia de la Danza Folklórica de México where she would share her cultural knowledge and teach her community’s traditional dances. This was a symbiotic relationship where La Academia would incorporate indigenous dances from Sra. Cobb while she would learn the Spanish language and Mexican folkloric dances from the different regions of the country.

By the time Sra. Cobb was an adolescent, she was a student to renowned artists Florencio Yescas, Armando Ballesteros, Francisco Aguila and Amelia Bell. These instructors were masters of their crafts and their teachings prepared Sra. Cobb for a lifetime of performing. Sra. Cobb has starred in plays and in movies. She was in the play “La Celestina” and played the piano in a concert, Una Pianista Concertista. She has acted in the Disney movie, “Tres Caballeros” (1944), “El Contrabando del Paso” (1980), and “Breaking the Rules” (1992).

After a short time in Tijuana and San Ysidro in 1964, Sra. Cobb relocated to Sacramento. She was 34 years of age and participated in the Chicano Movement by bringing the Danza Azteca to the US and helping establish indigenous culture. Her dance group was called Grupo Quetzalcoatl Folklórico de Sacramento. She was also instrumental in founding Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University (DQU). Incidentally, DQU was the first and only Native American-Chicano University in California (1971). There, Sra. Cobb taught indigenous cultural classes such as Historia Leyendas, Música y Costumbres de México, Danza Azteca, and Folklórico. These classes were also offered to University of California, Davis undergraduate students, and the first folklórico group was established which was called Aztlán Davis. These were the very first courses of the Chicano Studies curriculum major. Sra. Cobb traveled to the Quinto Teatro Chicano y Primer Encuentro Latino Americano in Mexico City with Luis Valdez. She co-taught classes in acting and translated plays for Theater Mark Rose. Sra. Cobb received great reviews from numerous newspapers for her role as maid in Bodas de Sangre, and for her role in La Muerte.

Throughout the 1970’s, Sra. Cobb was an active participant in the Chicano Movement. She has greatly contributed to the inclusion of indigeneity in higher education. At Sacramento State University, she advised the cultural arts group, and members of the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF). She led classes for Dr. Armando Ayala, Profe Jose Montoya, Dr. Frank Bautista, and Dr. Jorge Santana. During the 1980’s, when Sra. Cobb ended up as a single parent with teenage children and young adults, she decided to enroll in Lorenzo Patiño School of Law and pursue a career as a paralegal. She worked for Leonard Padilla and was recognized for being a great bounty hunter. In the 1990’s, she held three jobs; one at the elementary school, another at her restaurant in Sacramento called 524 and one in El Comité Patriota de Sacramento. Sra. Cobb juggled her work obligations all while leading her Grupo Folklórico de Sacramento and Quetzalcoatl danza group with Chuy Ocelotl Ortiz. Her dance groups presented at various venues, educating people from diverse age groups and backgrounds. Sra. Cobb’s dance groups performed at universities in California, at the Sacramento Fairgrounds, and at other locations. Importantly, for 27 years, Sra. Cobb took cultural shows to the wards of California Youth Authority. She was given the title of “Mother of the Cinco de Mayo Celebrations.” Sra. Cobb is responsible for establishing many cultural celebrations in the greater Sacramento region. She was the founder of February 24th Mexican Flag Day at Sutter’s Fort, and one of the founders of El Comité Patriótico Mexicano de Sacramento. Over time, Sra. Cobb has become one of the most distinguished indigenous women in the United States. In the late 1970’s, she brought the beauty of los pueblos Indígenas to the White House in Washington D.C through her Aztec dance group Ballet Quetzalcoatl of Sacramento, when she performed for President Jimmy Carter.

During the early 2000’s, Mamá Cobb – as she is affectionately referred to by the community- gave cultural conferences at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Since she is highly esteemed and honored by countless communities, her palabra carries a lot of clout. She is respected not only among her contemporaries, but also with her protégés and the youth.

At 90 years of age, Sra. Cobb continues to travel throughout California spreading her knowledge and participating in celebrations that she established. Most recently, she celebrated the 40-year anniversary of Xilonen, the coming of age ceremony for girls, which she started in Watsonville, California. Remarkably, she celebrated the 50th anniversary of Aztec Dance in the United States. Ultimately, her greatest accomplishments have been the dedication to her family and maintaining cultural traditions in the community. She has traveled the world teaching, dancing, and representing the culture and the history of México. Sra. Angelbertha Cobb reached a status of excellence when she was named Capitana Generala in the Danza Azteca circle, making her the highest ranking title in the United States.

For more information go to Mas y Mas de la Señora Angelbertha L. Cobb