Maria Rosa Lopez interviewed by Kevin Cabrera, October 11, 2013, Santa Ana, California, Oral History # 5344, transcript, Women Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.
This is an oral history of Maria Rosa Lopez, a co-founder of Hermandad Mexicana in Santa Ana, California. The purpose of this interview was to collect her life history, details of her local activism, and role in the historic Santa Ana rent strikes. Specifically, this interview details Lopez’ early life and family background in Mexico City, Mexico; shares how her single mother supported the family; discusses her siblings; how she and her mother reacted to a family tragedy; goes into further detail about the family’s hardships; her grandparents’ background and a reflection on her mother’s strength; growing up in Mexico City and the traditional foods and clothing; America’s influence in Mexico City in the 1960s; details her education from primary to higher; discusses the Partido Socialista and why she got involved with the student movement; goes into detail about the marches she participated in against Mexico’s government, and talks about the change she hoped to accomplish; the student massacre in Tlatelolco; shares the difficulties she faced during the protests; her time studying architecture at the Escuela Nacional de Architectura in Chiapas; discusses her time and experiences living with Indigenous communities in Chiapas during the 1970s; how the student massacre shaped her; moving to the United States and adjusting to life and work in Los Angeles; involvement with Hemandad Nacional de Mexico and co-founding the Hermandad Mexicana in Santa Ana; her experiences being in a male-dominated field as well as lobbying against the government’s immigration laws, such as Simpson-Mazzoli; discusses the Santa Ana rent strikes in the eighties and her specific involvement; explains the role of the undocumented tenants during the strikes; the role of mothers and women in the movement and their accomplishments; the City of Santa Ana’s reaction to the strikes; her reaction to seeing the dismal living conditions of the renters and the misconduct and abuse by their landlords; explains the importance of Hermandad Mexicana’s to the undocumented community; being a role model to undocumented parents and children; briefly discusses Cesar Chavez coming to speak at the rent strikes; discusses winning the rent strikes and court case, the tenant’s reactions, and the aftermath; shares her regret of not recording more data from the strikes; what motivates her to keep advocating for immigrants and change, as well as challenges she has faced; thoughts on women in activism; shares various political campaigns she helped organize; ends the interview with discussing her pride and belief in the Mexican culture, belief in self-betterment, and the power of education.
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