Vivian Emma Rothstein interviewed by Analia Cabral, July 1, 2016, Santa Monica, California, Oral History #5882, transcript, Women Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.
An oral history with Vivian Emma Rothstein, a development consultant for Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and community organizer. This interview was conducted for the Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project at California State University, Fullerton. The purpose of this interview was to gather her life history, details of community organizing for the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1965, as well as her work in low-income communities for welfare and housing rights. Specifically, this interview covers her family history, her Jewish heritage, and experiences in World War II; her mother’s political involvement with rent control and how that inspired her; the values she acquired from her family; details her mother’s life and work as a single parent; describes her early work experiences and how her time with Quality Collection Company was a radicalizing experience; her decision to attend the University of California, Berkeley, and her student activism with the Civil Rights Movement; shares how her aunt was her role model; her involvement and experiences with the Mississippi Freedom Summer project; her experiences running a freedom school and voter registration in Leake County, Mississippi; her family’s response to her activism and work; how she met her husband at a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) event, her husband’s work, and their children; her childhood experiences with gender roles; what she believes it takes to be an effective activist; her community organizing in Chicago and SDS projects; her experiences in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War; how and why she founded one of the first independent women’s liberation organizations in the 1970s: Chicago Women’s Liberation Union; discusses her role and experiences as the executive director at the Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC) in Santa Monica; her decision to leave her work with the City of Santa Monica and devote her time to OPCC, as well as her eventual recruitment for Unite Here! and LAANE; her advocacy for the homeless population; discusses her experiences running the Living Wage Campaign in Santa Monica and other legislation she has helped with; her work with the Respect at LAX Project; describes her leadership style; the differences of women in politics and activism then versus now; talks about activism within the Jewish community; how she balanced her home and work life as well as the effects of her activism on her family; differences in women and male leadership; sexism she experience in the New Left and how and why she became a speaker; her thoughts on feminism; how religion has played a role in her activism; shares how her work has shaped her life and what she is most proud of; closes the interview with the importance of women in activism and advice she would give.
Vivian Emma Rothstein, 2016.
Vivian Emma Rothstein with interviewer, Analia Cabral, 2016.
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