Oral Histories

Interview of Joe Razo

Co-editor, writer, and photographer for La Raza, a newspaper published by Chicano activists in East Los Angeles.
Series:
"La Batalla Está Aquí": The Chicana/o Movement in Los Angeles
Topic:
Social Movements
Latina and Latino History
Chicano Movement
Interviewer:
Espino, Virginia
Interviewee:
Razo, Joe
Persons Present:
Razo and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Razo'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.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
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.
Childhood memories from El Paso, Texas; English only expectations once family migrated to Los Angeles; Parents' education and the need for role models in the public school system; Surviving poverty during childhood; Mother's role in providing for the family; Psychological trauma developed from poverty; Experience with Jewish residents of East Los Angeles; First time drinking alcohol; Violence and alcohol during childhood and youth; Elementary school incident of child abuse; Desire to protect sister's virtue and experience with the double standard growing up; Anglo high school classmates as role models; Shame of poverty lasts a lifetime; Early goal to attend college but choosing the military instead; Learning about racism and college life while stationed in Tennessee.
World War II recollections; Depression era poverty; Race, sexuality and athletics in military culture; Transfer to United States military base in Newfoundland; Learning about whiteness while in the military; Experiencing racism in the military and deciding not to enter a career path in the Air Force; Tragedy of brother's arrest while enlisted in the Air Force; Parents' reaction to decision to join the military at 17 years of age; Impact of high school and college athletics in developing long- term goals; Weight of family obligations upon return from the military and decision to seek independence; Lessons learned while working with physically and emotionally challenged students; Radicalization around the Vietnam War; Bypassing relationships to pursue education; Importance of self-worth in achieving goals and in developing positive relationships; Meeting future wife and facing decision to choose companionship or career; Influence of the War on Poverty on job opportunities and as an introduction to the Chicano Movement; Experience meeting La Raza activists at Lincoln High School anti-police-abuse meeting; Visiting La Raza newspaper for the first time; Meeting activists who would go on to form the Los Angeles Chicano Movement; Reaching out to African American organizations; Intellectual mentor and research on intelligence and disability; Reflections on political ideology; Disappointment with early La Raza leadership; Discovering the site of power at the La Raza newspaper.
The founding of La Raza newspaper; Role of La Raza in the Mexican American community; Developing a critique of the Los Angeles educational system; Reflections on the "hubcap theory" of organizing; List of La Raza activists and individuals who supported the newspaper; Issues of race and the white women involved in La Raza newspaper; Turning anger on the white establishment; Influence of Rona Fields and the decision to chose organizing over an advanced degree; Sexual politics within La Raza newspaper and Católicos Por La Raza; Personal goals for the Chicano Movement; Nationalism as an organizing tactic versus an end goal; Reflections on the East Los Angeles student protests; Attempt to singlehandedly start the student walkout; Experience with the walkout; Work life during the social protest years.
Recalling the East Los Angeles Walkouts; Differences in ideology within the Chicano Movement; Chronology of the student protests; Experience with arrest; Leadership within the movement for educational justice; The Reverend Tony Hernandez; Educational Issues Coordinating Committee; Experience during the takeover of the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education meeting room; Eleazar Risco leaves Los Angeles and the role as coordinator for La Raza newspaper; Formation of Católicos Por La Raza; The struggle to provide for family while fighting for social justice; Commentary on identity and the Chicano Movement; Role in the Chicano Movement; The East Los Angeles 13 arrest; Solidarity march to free the East Los Angeles 13; Heavy toll of the Chicano Movement on marriages and families; Infidelity and sexual harassment in the Chicano Movement; Organizing for the Congress of Mexican American Unity.