Suja Lowenthal interviewed by Jared Otto, June 15, 2017, Santa Monica, California, Oral History #5979, transcript, Women Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.
An oral history with Suja Lowenthal, former member of the Long Beach School Board and the Long Beach City Council. The interview was conducted for the Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project and the Center for Oral and Public History at California State University, Fullerton. The purpose of this interview was to gather information regarding Lowenthal’s career in community activism and politics. Specifically, this interview discusses Lowenthal’s childhood as the daughter of Indian immigrants; challenges of migrating to America and adjusting to culture and school; compares Indian and American early educational systems; catching up academically with the help of a third-grade teacher; attending a diverse school yet becoming very aware of her own ethic identity; speaks about her parents’ professional assimilation in America; her father’s church and social service involvement; recalls how politics were not heavily discussed in her family, but more so the importance of hard work and ethic morals; how politics in India did not focus on differences as much as politics in America; family values of education and community service; how her mother overcame great adversity to become a nurse; how her mother’s strength was instilled in her; mentions role models; the influence and role of church in her life; attending UCLA and majoring in Economics; entering the work field for the City of Los Angeles, including Department of Water and Power, and Department of Aging; earning her MBA at Cal State LA; details her work for the Los Angeles city attorney’s office focusing on domestic violence; discusses the challenges and lessons learned working in domestic violence; entering doctoral program at USC; campaign and subsequent victory for Long Beach School Board; decision to run for Long Beach City Council (Second District); recalls important advice from her father-in-law (Congressman Alan Lowenthal); challenges and critiques of running for public office; discusses her achievements while serving the Second District, including parking, plastic bag ban, land use, and development; recalls an effort to run for state assembly, but ultimately withdrawing from the race; discusses current position working for the Big Blue Bus of Santa Monica; reflects on unique contributions made by women in politics; differences in men and women’s leadership; thoughts on feminism; reflects on the impact of Hillary Clinton’s presidential run; and finally; shares advice for young women wanting to get involved in politics.
Suja Lowenthal, taken while serving on Long Beach City Council (2006-2016).
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