Welcome to the 7th and next-to-last issue of our newspaper, dedicated to the stories of men and women interviewed for the U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project.
This issue brings you the broadest representation of our interview subjects to date: With the help of an appropriation from the state of Texas, a donation from Goya Foods and a grant from the Cain Foundation, we’ve been able to do some traveling to get these interviews, as well as to hire some excellent student help to work out the logistics and to get some more guest editors involved. We’re thrilled to be able to bring you more stories and photographs.
We also have interviews with people who are pretty famous. One of them is Congressional Medal of Honor winner José Lopez of San Antonio, conducted by University of Texas-Brownsville history professor Manuel Medrano. Another is Richard Candelaria, an ace fighter pilot, interviewed by University of California-Berkeley ethnic studies professor Mario Barrera. And a pioneer journalist who opened many doors for many who came later: Pete Moraga Sr., who worked for Voice of America, KCBS radio and Los Angeles’ KMEX-TV.
As always, our interviews in our home state of Texas continue to form the bulk of our stories. In Houston, we continue to count on the valuable work of volunteers, including Paul Zepeda and Ernest Eguia. But, as our name implies, ours has sought to be a national Project, gathering interviews not only from Texas, and not only of Mexican Americans, but of the larger Latino community. We have done so as our funding has allowed. It has been particularly interesting to learn about the cases of black Cuban Americans who served in segregated, “colored” units in World War II — their experiences have offered us a chance to reflect on racial differences among us, and how the pigment of our skin has played a role in our destinies. Our friends at the Vet Centers across the country continue have been a tremendous help – recruiting subjects and hosting interview sessions throughout the country. Often, counselors and other employees are also interviewers – some of the best.
Our next issue of Narratives will be our final one, as our project turns its attention to producing books based on these interviews. When those books are produced, profits will revert back to the project, as the costly work of transcribing and organizing will be continuing for years to come.
By the way, if you’re planning on conducting an interview for the final issue of Narratives, coming up in the fall, we’ll need your stories by Friday, Oct. 17, 2003, to give us enough time to write the stories, edit, fact-check and send them to the interview subject for final revision. We’ll still accept interviews after Oct. 17, but we can’t guarantee we can include them in the final issue of Narratives. Instead, we’ll be producing a much smaller newsletter, featuring photos and short bios of the people who have been interviewed. We’re already working on that final issue.
Thank you again to everyone who has worked so hard on this issue; it has taken a small army of good people to pull this all together:
Griff Singer, George Sylvie and Dave Garlock, fellow professors who assigned their journalism students to write stories for this issue, as well as their students who wrote stories based on somebody else’s interviews. Our students, mine included, have risen to the challenge of writing a story based on an videotaped interview conducted by someone else. Several have commented about how much they’ve learned from side-by-side editing sessions, as well as from listening to the stories of these men and women.
Volunteer fact-checkers Richard Brito and Bill Davies, who, as always, are quick and thorough. Our guest editors, Henry Mendoza, Robert Montemayor and Griff Singer, who turned into editing machines so we could get all these stories edited quickly and expertly. And our copy editors have handled stories quickly and expertly. Emily Quigley of the Statesman, was helped by Griff Singer, Cheryl Brownstein-Santiago of the LA Times, and Guillermo Torres, of the San Antonio Express-News. And finally, when we desperately needed Spanish-language copy editing, we imposed on Alfredo Carbajal-Madrid, who was in the middle of moving from Riverside California, where he was managing editor for La Prensa, to Dallas, where he is the new managing editor of the new Belo publication Al Dia in Dallas, which begins publication in September.
Our ace photo editors Yen-Yi Liu and Thomas Meredith, undergraduate photojournalism students who have been indispensable and delightful to work with. And our diligent and creative (and patient!) lay out and design editor, Beth Butler, who has turned a mountain of text files and scanned photos into gold.
Our good friends at the Austin American-Statesman, who, with the publication of this issue, will have printed four issues for us. This issue will be the Statesman’s last. They have been respectful, patient and excited about Narratives — they understand the importance of the Project and of using a newspaper to carry out part of our mission. And they know, more than anyone else, what it takes for all this to come together.
And, as always, our deepest appreciation to the men and women whose stories appear within Vol. 4, No. 1, and those we’ve interviewed since 1999, for continuing to serve as inspirations to the rest of us.
Assistant Professor of Journalism and Director, U.S. Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project