Oral Histories

Interview of Teresa McKenna

University of Southern California professor of English. Editor of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center’s journal, Aztlan. As a student at UCLA, was involved in the Chicano student movement on campus and the drive for the establishment of the research center.
UCLA Chicano Studies
Latina and Latino History
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
Centanino, Araceli
McKenna, Teresa
Persons Present:
McKenna and Centanino.
Place Conducted:
McKenna’s home in Long Beach, 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 Araceli Centanino, graduate student interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; C.Phil, U.S. history, UCLA. Centanino’s dissertation focuses on postwar Los Angeles, social movements, and public education. Centanino prepared for the interview by reading Juan Gómez-Quiñones and Irene Vásquez‘s Making Aztlan: Ideology and Culture of the Chicana and Chicano Movement and looking at various dissertations. She also viewed files from Chancellor Charles E. Young’s administration in the UCLA Library’s University Archives; studied the UCLA Center for Oral History Research’s series of oral histories on the founding of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies; and reviewed archival articles from the Daily Bruin about the founding of the ethnic studies centers.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. McKenna was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the content but made no changes.
3.75 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
These interviews document the rise of Chicano studies at UCLA and the founding of the Chicano Studies Research Center. Interviewees were involved in Chicano studies in the late 1960s and early ‘70s as students, faculty, or staff.
Birth and early childhood—Growing up in Wilmington—Siblings’ occupations and family background—Family migration history—Experiences in school growing up—Going to St. Anthony High School, a predominantly white Catholic high school—Applies to UCLA and is admitted—Joins Black Student Union—Is involved with the Robert F. Kennedy campaign—First quarter at UCLA—Begins reading theory with Juan Gómez-Quiñones outside of class—Joins United Mexican American Students (UMAS).
Relationship to the term “Chicano” as a political and racial identity—Phi Kappa Psi’s “Viva Zapata Party” mobilizes Chicano students—UMAS’s work with the Kennedy campaign—UMAS’s support of East Los Angeles Blowouts—Gendered politics of the Chicano Movement—High Potential Program—Imagining a Chicano studies center—Concurrent movements around the world feed the energy of the movement for the Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC)—The organized research unit model versus a department—Chancellor Charles E. Young—CSRC’s many activities—Epistemological and interdisciplinary challenges of creating the field of Chicano studies —Aztlan journal—Daily life in Campbell Hall—Antiwar protests on campus—Police sweep of Campbell Hall—Student resistance to relocation of centers from Campbell Hall—Chicano Moratorium.
Chicano Moratorium—Police confrontations with students on campus—Enters comparative literature master’s program—Begins work at Northrop Grumman Corporation after M.A.—Returns to UCLA to pursue a Ph.D. in comparative literature and earns a Ford fellowship, encouraged by Juan Gómez-Quiñones—Begins teaching at University of Southern California (USC) as an adjunct in 1979—Major successes of the CRSC and what remains to be done—Chicano as a fundamentally political term, discipline, and ideology—Lessons and takeaways from the Chicano Movement at UCLA.