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An Interview With Robert Hernandez
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Robert Hernandez
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded July 1, 1977. 1 sound cassette (ca. 90 minutes): analog, stereo.; 5 7/8 x 2 1/2 in., 1/8 in. tape; 1 sound disc; digital; 4 3/4 in. Has printed guide to contents.
NotesRobert Hernandez was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 10, 1945, and grew up in the West Side. At the time of the interview he was a member of the Kansas City City Council. In the interview he discusses early life, 1951 flood, City Council, etc.

Number 21 on MP3 disc.
LocationSC69-1, Tape 24, CD 24
Local SubjectWest Side
Oral History
City Council
Hispanic Americans
Hernandez, Robert M.
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Mr. Robert Hernandez was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 10, 1945. His parents are Mudesta and David Hernandez. They raised twelve children, five boys and seven girls. Mr. Hernandez grew up in the West Side, a neighborhood of low-income, blue-collar workers; all types of people lived there: Anglos, Mexicans, and Blacks. While growing up he always felt protected by family and neighbors; he never felt isolated. His grandparents also lived with his parents. It was not a sophisticated place but their values were placed in respecting and honoring their elders.

Mr. Hernandez' father served with the armed forces during World War II. He was sent to the South Seas where he acquired a touch of malaria and other physical problems that somehow disabled him for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, he worked for the Swift Packing House for 15 years, but had to quit his job early without any of the present benefits.

Mr. Hernandez went to Switzer and West Junior High School and then to Manual, an all Black school. His experience in the school was not very good. The teachers discouraged him and many Mexicans to obtain better education. He stayed there only one semester. He belonged to the Baptist church. He was a Boy Scout, but dropped it because he could not buy a hat. The Salvation Army offered some of their entertainment. Mr. Hernandez talks more about his father. Mr. Hernandez' wife worked first with comptometers and then with computers.

Side Two - The flood of 1951 was an exciting time for him as a child. Many children went to the river to rescue animals, especially pigs. It seems as though everybody had a pig to roast. His folks sheltered two families in their basement for a few months; those who had lost their homes during the flood.

People influencing his life: A teacher, Mr. Blaine (?) a very good teacher who taught on their own level and therefore won the admiration and respect of all the students. Mr. Blaine is now with the Board of Education. Mr. Hernandez married very young. He went to school and worked nights in 1960. He learned about machines. He took trigonometry and drafting courses at Penn Valley Community College and was a straight A student. Then he went to UMKC. He wanted to become an engineer. He took political science, sociology, metropolitics but he feels all these courses are very deceitful for the Mid-American people and more so for the Mexican-Americans.

Plans for the future: Education is the key for everything. There is no choice without education and especially for Mexican-Americans. Mr. Hernandez has been in the City Council since 1975. The person who encouraged him to run for City Council was Jim White who is now Administrative Mayor of the City. They spent many hours together working from door to door asking for petitions. They only spent $3,000 in this campaign, while others had spent $30,000 or more doing the same work. He feels Mexicans have matured and that they never had the opportunity to participate in City government. He was the first Mexican ever to be elected to this position in Missouri. He plans to run one more term, hoping to win. At that time his daughter will be ready to go to college and he will enroll again so they can graduate together. He expects to take some courses in human rights, law school, justice, immigration, etc., so he will be able to protect the rights of the Mexican people.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210316
CONTENTdm number36341
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