Welcome to the premiere edition of Narratives, a project of the University of Texas at Austin Department of Journalism. This semester, J 352-Community Journalism has focused on capturing the stories of Latinos and Latinas of the World War II generation. Our efforts are part of a larger national oral history effort. (For more information about the umbrella project, please refer to the project Web page.)
This class is cross-listed under Latin American Studies and Mexican American Studies. So, some of our 13 students are not journalism majors, but rather bring with them new perspectives from their own areas of study.
Our students range from a 40-something-year-old woman returning for an undergraduate degree in journalism, to an ethnic studies major from San Antonio bent on bringing alternative films to campus, to another ethnic studies major who hopes to teach some day at the college level. They have partnered up for the interviews one conducting the interview with the other one shooting video that is to be used by award-winning documentary film producer Hector Galán as field work for a film about the subject. The mix of students has produced what we hope you will find is a fresh enthusiasm and curiosity about journalism and history, in particular the history of World War II and U.S. Latinos.
One key to a successful oral history project lies in training interviewers. We have been fortunate to have an entire semester to train students and to have available to us authorities on various aspects of the project. Our speakers have included:
We have also spent considerable time learning to use equipment; our audio is intended to radio broadcast quality. We videotaped each interview÷ initially because it would help Hector Galánâs future documentary film. But we have become true believers in the power of the medium: being able to see these men and women, as well as hear them, make the interviews far more valuable and interesting to us and, we hope, to those who view the tapes in years to come.
Our deepest thanks go to the men and women we interviewed for this project. They are living heros and heroines, adhering to the highest principles of honesty and hard work and fighting for what is right. They were born at a time of great and widespread poverty in our country, a period when young children often left school to help family finances. The difficult circumstances too often meant shorter life spans: many of our interview subjects lost a parent to an unknown illness during their childhoods. Those hardships toughened these men and women, as they were later able to overcome tremendous obstacles, some on the battlefield, others at home.
A recurring theme in the interviews has been the importance of education. All of them, even the ones who could not use the GI Bill themselves, believed in the value of education as the one asset that cannot be lost or stolen.
And they are loyal. In their personal lives, many of them married early and stayed married for 50 and more years.
They are equally loyal and patriotic to their country. In fact, what is particularly remarkable is that in their early years, these men and women were generally considered second-class citizens in the country they loved so dearly. They nonetheless had the courage to question the nature of limitations imposed upon them and to change their world. Collectively, they gave later generations different expectations and possibilities. Thank you to all the men and women whose stories appear on this first issue of Narratives and to the men and women whose stories will be printed in coming issues. Indeed, thank you to all those men and women of all races and backgrounds of the World War II generation who gave so much.
Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Instructor - 352-Community Journalism
Ana Cristina Acosta - Senior, Journalism (News & Public Affairs)
Monica Jean Alaniz - Junior, Ethnic Studies
Lisa Cummings - Junior, Journalism (Broadcast)
Antonio Carlos Gilb - Junior, Public Relations
Minette Hernandez - Junior, Journalism (Broadcast)
Joshua Kyle Leighton - Junior, Journalism/Media Studies
Sofia Mena - Junior, Journalism (News & Public Affairs)
Rhonda Marie Miller - Senior, Journalism (Magazine)
Susan Mary Miller - Senior, Journalism, (News & Public Affairs)
Haldun M. Morgan - Senior, Mexican American Studies
Alicia Rascon - Sophomore, Psychology
Andrea Kaye Valdez - Senior, Journalism, (Magazine)
Reprint, courtesy of Picosito.com and Elisa Batista
Teaching Assistant: Cheryl Smith
Instructor: Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
Printing of the paper issue of Narratives provided by the Austin American-Statesman.
Web Design and Production: Jontel Serrano
This project has been refined over the past eight months and there are many people to thank.