Oral Histories

Interview of Anna Nieto Gomez

Founder of Hijas de Cuauhtemoc, Encuentro Feminil, and La Feminista, publications focused on issues relating to feminism and the Chicana community. Created a Chicana studies curriculum at California State University, Northridge, served as assistant professor in their Chicano studies department.
"La Batalla Está Aquí": The Chicana/o Movement in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Latina and Latino History
Chicano Movement
Biographical Note:
Founder of Hijas de Cuauhtemoc, Encuentro Feminil, and La Feminista, publications focused on issues relating to feminism and the Chicana community. Created a Chicana studies curriculum at California State University, Northridge, served as assistant professor in their Chicano studies department.
Espino, Virginia
NietoGomez, Anna
Persons Present:
NietoGomez and Espino.
Place Conducted:
NietoGomez's home in Lakewood, 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).
Processing of Interview:
The transcripts for sessions one through seven are a verbatim transcription of the recording. They were transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. NietoGomez 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. COHR staff prepared timed logs of the audio recordings for sessions eight through eleven. NietoGomez was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and verify the accuracy of the content but made no changes.
24 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.
NietoGomez’s family roots— Mother’s family history in Zacatecas, Mexico— The kidnapping of great-grandmother — Grandmother’s response to kidnapping— Great-grandmother’s return— Family moves to Coahuila, Mexico— Great-grandmother’s second child and correspondence with family in United States— Family’s migration to United States by railroad— Great-grandmother raises family in Kansas— Grandmother’s sister’s death— Great-grandfather’s history in Mexican Revolution— How great-grandfather met great-grandmother— Grandfather’s Puerto Rican background— Grandfather’s family background— Grandfather’s history and immigration to the U.S. through New Orleans— Grandfather’s life in Chicago and railroad work— Grandfather’s courting of grandmother— Grandmother’s marriage and mother’s birth— Great-grandmother’s decision to raise mother— Family’s work in New Mexico mines— Grandfather’s work on railroads in New Mexico and Arizona— Mother’s life with great-grandmother— Family’s life and Mexican identity living in Arizona— Family’s schooling and interaction with the Navajo community— Mother’s integrated education— Great-grandmother’s attempt to pull mother out of school.
Mother’s return to school— The life of the extended family in Arizona— Grandfather’s relocation and family's moves— Grandmother delivers a thirteenth child and pulls second oldest child out of school— Relocation back to Houck, Arizona— Mother lives with future husband's parents— Father’s family background— Paternal grandmother's history and marriage to grandfather— Grandfather’s death and grandmother’s remarriage— Father’s work as a youth and his enlistment in the army— The name “NietoGomez”— Father’s history as a military medic and member of Merrill’s Marauders— Father’s experience in the army as a Mexican American— Father receives Silver Star for his service— Father’s postwar injuries— His return to New Mexico and his experience of PTSD— Father’s move to San Bernardino— His experience with the Veterans Administration— Mother’s return to Houck and family’s move to San Bernardino— Mother’s work for Santa Fe railroad— Family’s experience with racial segregation in San Bernardino— History of the Mount Vernon neighborhood in San Bernardino— Parents marry— Great-grandmother’s requirements for last rites— Father and great-grandfather build house— Great-grandfather leaves— Great-grandmother’s death.
Segregation in San Bernardino— Family’s move to San Bernardino and displacement by Caltrans— Father does a variety of jobs— Father’s mortuary education and family move to Ramona Gardens— Father’s involvement in the American Legion— NietoGomez’s asthma in Ramona Gardens— Move to Cajon Pass with grandfather— Father’s work at a mortuary— Father’s training in aeronautic school, relocation to Cajon Pass, and work at Victorville Air Force Base— Mother goes back to work for Santa Fe railroad— NietoGomez’s shyness in kindergarten— Family moves to Bakersfield— NietoGomez’s asthma attacks in elementary school— Family builds house in San Bernardino— NietoGomez’s latchkey childhood— Relationship with her grandparents— Family’s differing religious views and NietoGomez’s communion— NietoGomez’s desire to become a nun.
Mexican American community in San Bernardino— Growing up with working parents— Experiences with elementary school teacher Mrs. Coughlin— NietoGomez’s refusal to talk to adults— Fourth-grade teacher breaks NietoGomez out of her silence— Speech therapy— Childhood activities— Closeness of San Bernardino community— Experiences babysitting— Differences between “pachucos” and “tecatos”— Experiences and classism at Arrowview Junior High School— Parents’ social life— Joins Catholic Youth Organization— Encounter with the Hell’s Angels— Favorite subjects and teachers in eighth grade— NietoGomez’s strong Mexican identity— Voted president of Girls’ Athletic Association and joins student council in ninth grade— Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and social climate— Racial issues around school athletes— Friendships with black students— Voted in as basketball queen.
Positive experiences with middle and high school teachers— Regular exposure to violence— Introduced to literature by teacher— Sleeps through SAT session— Aunts’ jobs— NietoGomez’s role model, Sofie Gutierrez— Lack of femininity— First boyfriends— Failures in secretarial and home economics classes— First days at San Bernardino Valley College— Struggles with narcolepsy and malnutrition— Early interest in Mexican and Aztec history— Difficulties speaking Spanish-- Participates in Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) counseling-- Works at JC Penney--Sexual harassment while at JC Penney--Attends California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)— Parents' housing situation--Meets Corrine Sanchez— Culture shock upon arriving at CSULB— Father moves to Sacramento— Jobs while a student—Moves into Christian dorms—Father's death— Meets striking Chicano students.
Finds a new focus in Chicano activism— Administrative issues and beginnings of Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) in 1967—Background of Joe White, black nationalist leader of EOP, and initial recruiting— Beginnings of United Mexican American Students (UMAS)— Creating Chicano community at California State University, Long Beach— Stronger sense of identity through UMAS— Parents’ avoidance of discussions of racism— Experience of racism with white boyfriend— Early organizational structure of UMAS-- UMAS as compared to Black Student Union— Early mentors of UMAS— Preceding civil rights work in education— NietoGomez’s own consciousness raising— Visiting East L.A.’s Chicano community— Comparison between East L.A. and San Bernardino.
United Mexican American Students (UMAS)’s work to create access and increase representation— UMAS’s first guest speaker series— Joins Teatro and establishes a class— Discovers California State University, Long Beach forums with Armando Morales and Ralph Guzman— First UMAS conferences at University of Southern California and UCLA— Election of new officers and first female UMAS president— Beginnings of gender disparity in UMAS— Sensitivity sessions that include focus on integration in UMAS— Work as an Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) counselor solving housing discrimination problems— Incidents of housing discrimination in Long Beach— UMAS’s campus tours for students and outreach programs with Rene Nuñez— UMAS’s student recruitment week and student recruitment day with busloads of students— A first speech at the Rotary Club in San Pedro— Cultural experiences with black and Chicano student recruits— Mentoring students through work as a residential adviser — Women’s workshop at Denver conference— Chicana students’ struggles in the movement— Changing definitions of gender roles through generations.