Oral Histories

Interview of Victoria Castro

Founding member of the Brown Berets, and key organizer of the Chicano Blowouts. Became the second Latina member of the LA School Board.
"La Batalla Está Aquí": The Chicana/o Movement in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Latina and Latino History
Chicano Movement
Biographical Note:
Founding member of the Brown Berets, and key organizer of the Chicano Blowouts. Became the second Latina member of the LA School Board.
Espino, Virginia
Castro, Victoria
Persons Present:
Castro and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Castro's home in Alhambra, 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, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; B.A., UC, Santa Cruz (Psychology); Ph.D., Arizona State University (History).Espino prepared for the interview by consulting numerous secondary sources on the history of the Chicana and Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, such as Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement by Carlos Muñoz, Chicano Politics Reality and Promise 1940-1990 by Juan Gomez Quinones, From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America by Vicki L. Ruiz, and Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice, by Ian F. Lopez Haney. The Historical Los Angeles Times database was consulted along with primary resources from the Chicana/o Movement housed at UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center.
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. The interviewee 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.
10 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The interviews in this series document the ideological transformation of the Chicana and Chicano generation in Los Angeles. Dissatisfied with their position in U.S. society, Chicana and Chicano activists built a civil rights movement from the ground up. Interviewees were selected based on their experience as members or leaders of Chicana and Chicano Movement organizations from 1962 to 1978. Collectively the oral histories document a variety of social justice struggles that include, but are not limited to, educational improvement, union advocacy, voting and political rights, gender equality, and anti-war activism.
Early family history; Mother's coming of age story; Childhood experiences growing up in Los Angeles; Experience being raised by older brothers; Gender expectations and gender division within the household; Losing Spanish language; Older brother's emphasis on higher education; Language and identity within the family; Role of religion in the family; Mother's conflict with the Catholic Church's position on birth control; Relationship to the Catholic Church; Double standard in the household and conflict with father over female autonomy issues; Learning union values from mother; Learning about politics from parents; Television commentator George Putnam instills fear of Chicano Movement activists; Attending Camp Hess Kramer and meeting first boyfriend; Decision to leave Young Chicanos for Community Action.
Recollections of Camp Hess Kramer; Learning about minority status and discrimination within the Los Angeles Unified School District; First activist meeting at Laguna Park; Impression of David Sanchez in comparison with own social justice goals; Creating La Piranya coffee house; Church of the Epiphany as center of Chicano activism; Experience being escorted off Roosevelt campus during the student protests; Decision to create a student survey on educational needs of East Los Angeles; Working for the group Youth for Nava for Los Angeles Unified School Board; Chronology of the East Los Angeles student protests; Creating Chicano Studies and the Educational Opportunity Program at California State University, Los Angeles; Lessons learned from working with Bert Corona.
Decision to leave Young Chicanos for Community Action; Members of the first educational issues coordinating meeting; Parent involvement in educational community activism; Anti-communist feelings in the community; 1960s political ideology; Corky Gonzales' sexist comment at California State University, Los Angeles; Leadership opportunities; Feminism; Sexuality and family and religious values; Experience when daughter becomes pregnant; Reflections on white feminism; Role in the Association of Mexican American Education and first teaching position in Los Angeles; Dedicating education to math and science; Relationships; Student activism while at California State University, Los Angeles; Controversial view of Ralph Guzman; Experience working for Teacher Core and migrant students in the San Joaquin Valley; Gender and race discrimination; Relationship with Comisión Femenil at California State University, Los Angeles; Activist goals of the 1960s; Current working relationships with 1960s activists. (Interview session ends abruptly because dog chews on plug).
Negotiating conflicts with domineering leadership; Conflict over name change from United Mexican American Students to Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán; Conflict around the anti-Vietnam War position of the Chicano Movement; Chicano Nationalism called into question in the post-Chicano Movement period; Reflections on the concept of Aztlán and the Plan de Santa Barbara; The concept of a "Brown" school and Academia Semillas del Pueblo as an example; Current issues facing public school students; Current issues facing teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District; Lessons learned as a middle school principal; Issues faced with the Los Angeles United School District's bilingual education policy; Experience with Rockwood gang violence and student deaths; Deciding to run for the Los Angeles School Board; Problem solving tactics learned while a school principal; Reflections on the arrest of the East Los Angeles 13; Controversial incident with high achieving students.
Issues that impacted the 1980s, such as bilingual education and the professionalization of Chicano activism; Importance of celebrating Chicano and Mexican culture; Challenging a traditional school in northeast Los Angeles with an introduction to Mexican culture; Comparing an East Los Angeles public school with a northeastern Los Angeles public school; Reflections on being a guiding force of activism; Patriotism; Chicano and Mexican mentors; Experience on the opposite side of an educational issue with Maria Elena Durazo; Reflections on an alliance with Gloria Molina; Role in controversial construction of Belmont Learning Complex, currently named Edward Roybal Learning Center; 1990s divisions within Chicana and Chicano politics.