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An Interview With Alfonso Lopez
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Alfonso Lopez
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded October 20, 1978. 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. Includes a typed guide to contents.
NotesAlfonso Lopez was born in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, January 23, 1950. At the time of the interview he was director of the bi-lingual program in the Kansas City School District. In the interview he discusses his early childhood in Mexico and his work in Kansas City, etc.

Number 23 on MP3 disc.
Date1978-10-20
LocationSC69-1, Tape 26, CD 26
Local SubjectSchool Administrators
Lopez, Alfonso
Mexican Americans
Oral History
Hispanic Americans
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Lopez is director of the bi-lingual program in the Kansas City, Missouri, public school system. Born in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, January 23, 1950. Third of eight children; first son. Nicknamed ''Macho,'' a name with heavy cultural connotations. Father spent much time in the U.S. before children were born. Worked on the railroad in Kansas City as early as 1929. Migrant worker, taught himself English; spent some time as a translator for the courts in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Became a legal U.S. resident; worked in a factory during WWII. Returned to Mexico around 1947. Father took mother as common-law wife; first child born in 1948.

After Alfonso was born, the family moved to Guadalupe, state of Juarez. Mother sold tortillas to supplement family income. Family joke about Alfonso being picked up by the police when he was two years old. Children swam across Rio Grande to help father pick cotton in Texas. Lived next door to the mayor of Guadalupe. Mayor gave children jobs on his farm. Lopez also shined shoes, sold candy, papers to make money. Completed both kindergarten and first grade in one year. Mother taught children to count, ABC's at an early age. Parents names were Telestro Lopez Saucero and Trinidad Vazquez de Lopez. Transferred to Catholic school in another town for grades two and three. Father obtained a student visa and sent children to Tornillo, Texas, to school from 1960-1965. Family then obtained legal U.S. residence and moved to Tornillo.

Children attended Catholic sevices. Parents were not active in the church. Had many problems adjusting to school and life in the U.S. Many family problems. Resented being in the U.S. Father made children do farm labor, but excused them for school activities. Lopez excelled in sports. Quit school briefly in third grade but soon returned to avoid working full time. Got into fights; felt fighting was the only way to gain respect of peers. Attended high school in Tornillo, involved in literary and math competitions. Graduated as valedictorian of the class when he was 20 years old. Also participated in Upward Bound, a program for disadvantaged youth. Siblings also education-oriented.Applied to North Texas State University, but was not accepted because his application was handled incorrectly.

Further comments about machismo. Had been drafted in 1969 while still in high school. Friend helped him get deferrment. Same friend helped straighten out college application process. Encountered more red tape upon arrival and was late getting to the registrar's office. A worker there shut the door in his face. Ironically, he later became good friends with the worker when he was assigned work-study in registrar's office. Received bachelor's in sociology in two-and-one-half years. Had begun working as a teacher's aide with Mexican-American children. Principal of the school encouraged him to go into education. Received MA in 1974. Married in 1973. Became director of new bilingual program in Garden City, Texas, after receiving MA in 1974. Wife finished nursing education there. Learned of opening in Kansas City; started as a part-time consultant in Jaunary 1977. Began working for Kansas City full time when contract expired in Garden City.

Has changed bilingual program to bring it into compliance with the law. Hopes to get PhD, legal degree to gain the proper credentials to become an advocate for his educational beliefs. Great interest in writing. Father's tough attitude gave him endurance to survive and succeed in a hostile atmosphere. Mother showed him more humane side of life. Resents Catholic Church's attitude towards women. Says some women have a better perception of life than men. Strong faith in God. Principal who encouraged him to go into education was positive male role model. Has found Kansas City unfriendly. Feels like an outsider. Wife has given him strong moral support. Finds he still retains some chauvanistic tendencies.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210319
CONTENTdm number36343
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