Oral Histories

Interview of Lilia Aceves

Founder of the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional and first director of the Chicana Action Service Center. Activist in the Cooperative Nursery School Movement.
Mexican American Civil Rights Pioneers: Historical Roots of an Activist Generation
Latina and Latino History
Biographical Note:
Founder of the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional and first director of the Chicana Action Service Center. Activist in the Cooperative Nursery School Movement.
Espino, Virginia
Aceves, Lilia
Persons Present:
Aceves and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Aceves's home in Monterey Park, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Virginia Espino, Program Coordinator for Latina and Latino History, UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research; B.A., psychology, UC Santa Cruz; Ph.D., history, Arizona State University.Espino prepared for the interview by researching the Comisión Femenil de Los Angeles Papers, 1970-1980 housed at UCLA's Chicano Studies Resource Center. The Historical Los Angeles Times database was consulted, along with various secondary sources on Los Angeles Chicano history, politics, and civic life.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Aceves was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
14 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The purpose of this series is to document the social justice activism of the Mexican American generation and to explore family and community life in war-time Los Angeles. Individuals selected for this series resided in Los Angeles during the 1930s and 1940s and began their civic participation prior to 1960. Represented groups include a wide range of activists, including labor, political, and educational activists. Their combined experience underscores war-time community life and outlines the historical precursors to the Chicano Movement.
Family background; Fleeing Mexico during Revolution; Arriving in New Mexico in 1916; Arriving in California; 1930s Los Angeles; Boarding schools; Early childhood living conditions; Aunt dies of tuberculosis; Belmont High School; Work at May Company; Olive View Sanatorium; Skin color issues.
Boarding school experience at Francis de Paul School for Girls; Friendship bonds; Mother’s alcoholism; Boarding school education; Leaving the boarding school to attend a public high school; The Church of All Nations; Denied academic courses in high school; First job at May Company; Teenage peer group; World War II and internment; Pachuco culture; Sleepy Lagoon case.
Work at May Company; Relief during the Depression; Belmont High School; Aliso Village Projects; Los Angeles music scene; Dating; Meeting husband; Sexual mores; Childbearing; Ramona Co-op Nursery; Height’s Co-op Nursery; No war toys philosophy; Wabash Council; McCarthy era; Eastside Democratic Club; Divorce; Son’s alcoholism; Formal structure of Co-op Nursery.
Community Service Organization; Raul Morin election; Wabash Coordinating Council; Eastside Democratic Club; Delfino Varela; Paul M. Sheldon studies; Economic development opportunities; Anti-poverty community representative; Working for Mayor Tom Bradley; Evolution of political ideology; Un-American Activities Committee; East Los Angeles College; Sexism in the Mexican American Political Organization; Pertinent issues in the 1950s; Julian Nava election to Board of Education.
League of Mexican American Women; Francisca Flores; Gender role expectations during marriage; Assertive Mexican American women; Women’s issues and the Mexican American Political Association; Gender conflict; Comisión Femenil; National Chicano Issues Conference; Chicana Service Action Center; Alicia Escalante; Reproductive health; Comisión’s organizing component.
Chicana Service Action Center; Comisión Femenil Mexicana; Influence of Unitarian Church; Influence of Guillermo Martínez; Conflict with Comision’s board of directors; Chicana Service Action Center; Description of Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional and Comisión Femenil de Los Angeles; People’s College of Law; Union affiliations; Anti-war position; Chicano Moratorium; Católicos Por La Raza demonstration; The East Los Angeles Community Union; Euclid Foundation.
Congress of Mexican American Unity; Issues pertinent to the Congress of Mexican American Unity; Job responsibilities at the Congress of Mexican American Unity; Anti-Poverty Board of Directors; Issues relevant to the Anti-Poverty board; Gender issues pre-1970s; International Women’s Day Conference in Mexico, 1975; Betty Freidan; Differences between Chicana and white feminism.
Shift in ethnic identifiers; Mexican American Political Association proposes various names for its organization; Chicano Movement split; Chicano and Chicana as political statement; Use of the term “Pocho”; Pre-Civil Rights terms; Use of the term Hispanic; Francisca Flores’ influence in the formation of Comisión Femenil Mexicana; Ramona Banuelos as U.S. Treasurer; Community organizing for mayor Tom Bradley; Anti-Poverty Board; Urban renewal; Political appointment by Supervisor Ernest Debs; Employment with the Fair Employment and Housing Department; Homosexual as a protected category; Pregnancy as a protected category.
Divorce; Life as a single woman; Tense relationship with mother; Making the decision to end the marriage; Working with Department of Fair Housing and Employment; Experiences monitoring employment practices in Los Angeles; Gender discrimination and examples of sexual harassment; Working community; Deciding to retire; law school; the bar exam; Comisión Femenil and the Election of Gloria Molina to the Assembly; Centro de Niños; Anti-war position; Current political direction.