Oral Histories

Interview of Lydia Lopez

Member of Católicos por La Raza protests. Involved in the sanctuary movement in Los Angeles, the resettlement of refugees from Central America.
"La Batalla Está Aquí": The Chicana/o Movement in Los Angeles
Latina and Latino History
Social Movements
Chicano Movement
Biographical Note:
Member of Católicos por La Raza protests. Involved in the sanctuary movement in Los Angeles, the resettlement of refugees from Central America.
Espino, Virginia
Lopez, Lydia
Persons Present:
Lopez and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Lopez'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., University of California, 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. Lopez was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of/a few corrections and additions. The interviewee was given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
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.
Family background – Maternal grandparents and mother – How parents met – Father’s jobs – Growing up in Jim Town – Mother makes her clothes – Attends Whittier Christian Elementary School – Family’s religion practice – Early life revolves around the church due to father’s strong faith – Uses term “Spanish - American” so as not to identify as Hispanic or Mexican – Class differences between herself and her friends – Differences between friends from church and those from neighborhood – Leaves the Baptist church – Her mother and her differences with Cesar Chavez – Differences between father’s values and those of her uncle – Grows up with a gay friend – The Archbishop of Canterbury and Mayor Tom Bradley visit the Church of the Epiphany – Marriage – Moving into a retirement home – Grows up with Bible studies – Son marries into a Roman Catholic family – Concept of faith– The Baptist church and its foreign missions – Changes churches – Involvement at church.
Elementary school – Interaction with Roman Catholics – The death of her father – The ways community members would rely on her father – Differences in upbringing from that of her brother – Parents' expectations – The death of her mother – An overprotective brother – Values imparted to her while growing up – Fosters an open relationship with her own children – Son attends Roman Catholic school – Social life revolves around the church while growing up – A sense of a secure community while growing up – Bad influences within her community – Decides to perfect her English – Teachers that made an impact on her – Dealing with physical changes – Becomes involved in the Chicano movement – A first picketing event – Family’s comfortable economic situation – Moving from Whittier to Redman – The assassination of President John F. Kennedy – Attends California State University, Los Angeles – Differences between her life and that of her brother – Language conflicts – Chooses a career – Leaves college – Family problems.
Experiments with new churches – A debt to writers who influenced her social action – Moves out of parents’ home – Mother’s influence – Works for Welfare Planning Council – Talks with Saul Alinsky – Develops a political consciousness – Sy Villa – Activities with her Church of the Epiphany – A sit-in at the Board of Education on issues of student walkouts – Names of people that possibly got arrested at that time – Meetings with Educational Issues Coordinating Committee (EICC) before sit-in.
Defining the term “Chicano” – Lack of family support for ideas – Fighting for social justice – Her love for the Episcopal Church – Getting arrested – Early supporters of Cesar Chavez – Works on the first Tom Bradley campaign – Members of the Church of the Epiphany – Relationships between different churches – The start of Spanish service at church – The Cursillo Movement – Attends the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) meetings – Early experiences at Church of the Epiphany – Episcopal church bishops – The importance of Bishop Pike – Controversies in the ordination of women – The importance of Malcom Boyd in her life – Terms and positions in the Episcopal church teaching as compared to those of the Roman Catholic Church – Important connections made by wealthy bishops – James and his wife Mary Agnes – La Raza Newspaper and its members – Questions surrounding some members of La Raza Newspaper team – The day of the arrest and the ensuing trial around the walkouts – Appointed to the LA grand jury for one year.
Meets future husband Fred Lopez – Relationship with Lopez - Develops East Los Angeles Action Center to fight for consumer issues – Works on the effort to push the Board of Education to provide free meals to low income kids within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) – Sources of funding for justice work – Risco and his ordination process – Divorced from Fred Lopez – Fred Lopez’s new family – Meets Fred’s new wife for the first time – The consequences for the judge who appoints her to the grand jury – Learns about Católicos por La Raza – The arrests on Christmas Eve 1969 – Works for a Roman Catholic Church – Invited to go to the White House, where Pope John Paul II is also a guest – Events in the UNO days.
Community involvement and activism – Changes over time within the education system – Son’s education – Activism in the Catholic Church, including activism around the walkouts – Outcomes of the strategies that were implemented – The beginning of the organization of UNO – Ruben Salazar’s death –Frank Del Olmo – Participants in the activism – The case of the thirteen Chicanos that were indicted by the grand jury – Involvement with women-centered groups – Planned parenthood and reproductive rights – Contributions by the Brown Berets to the movement –David Sanchez – Leaders of the Chicano movement and their ideas of women – Outcomes of the movement – Work that UNO did with insurance companies – Differences between the Chicano movement and UNO – Thoughts on the term "Chicana."