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An Interview With Elvira Ramirez
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Elvira Ramirez
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Date of interview unknown. 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 a typed list of contents.
NotesAt the time of the interview, Ms. Ramirez was director of the Spanish speaking office of Kansas City, Kansas and an assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. She was born on March 25, 1937 in Kansas City, Kansas. In the interview she discusses her early life, family, education, church, migrant families, national activities as an Mexican-American advocate, etc.

Number 40 on MP3 disc.
LocationSC69-1, Tape 45, CD 45
Local SubjectOral History
West Side
Ramirez, Elvira
Hispanic Americans
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Ms. Ramirez is director of the Spanish Speaking office of Kansas City, Kansas and an assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. She was born on March 25, 1937 in Kansas City, Kansas in what is now the Central Industrial District. Her parents are Ramon and Antonia Ramirez. She is one of 12 children and 9 are still living.

Both her parents are from Pueblo Nuevo, Guanajuato. Her father came to the U.S. at age 13 to help support the family in Mexico. He worked for railroads and then the Armour meat packing company. Description of West Bottoms neighborhood where she grew up (Kansas side of Kansas City). Her family lived in a 5-room house with no indoor plumbing. She attended Riverview Grade School. Her father insisted the children attend public school, thinking the education was better than Catholic grade school. Her parents spoke only Spanish. The older children spoke Spanish and the younger ones learned English.

Her social life revolved around the family. The grade school was racially mixed with no segrergation. The teachers were strict, but humanitarian. Her parents are devoutly Catholic. They attended St. Bridget's until it was destroyed in the 1951 flood and then they switched to St. Mary's. Her father was a part-time clarinet player and encouraged the children's musical aptitudes.

She entered Central Junior High and had many problems with teachers. There were rival groups and gangs among the Mexican-Americans from different neighborhoods. She attended Wyandotte High, one of 3 or 4 Mexicans in an otherwise all-White school. Her father insisted on Wyandotte instead of the Argentine High School because he thought it was better academically. She was ostracized by most students or parents for being Mexican. She graduated in 1954.

Vague recollections of WWII. Flood of 1951: Her father almost drowned. The home was left standing, but the interior was destroyed. The family lived in a school for the summer while cleaning mud and debris from one room at a time. Many neighbors whose homes were destroyed left the neighborhood permanently.

Ms. Ramirez encountered some discrimination in searching for a secretarial job. She began volunteer work in the church.S he entered the Sisters of Charity Convent in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1956. She attended St. Mary's College and received her Bachelor's degree in elementary education. She was assigned to teach in Wyoming and was not permitted to speak of her background within the order. Ms. Ramirez transferred to Colorado. She was dissatisfied with teaching and requested a transfer to a mission in Peru. She was sent to Texas, where she lived alone and worked among the poor for 2 years. She was transferred to a conservative, anti-civil rights parish in California. She transferred again to Kansas City, where she became an advocate for migrant workers. Her superiors felt she was causing trouble and transferred her to Denver. She worked with emotionally disturbed children until she received a scholarship to Denver University where she studied program development.

She was active in the Chicano movement. She was asked to move out of the convent because her activities disturbed the tranquility. She lived alone for 2 years and then left the order. She accepted a job developing migrant programs in Kansas and a teaching post at the University of Kansas. Family reaction to her entering and leaving the convent. Activities in present job, honors and national activities as an Mexican-American advocate. Her observations on the need to provide role models for Mexican-Americans in Kansas City. Her incentives in life always came from her parents, despite their resistance to her untraditional lifestyle.

Her main goal for the future is a continued strong advocacy and educational role in the Kansas City Mexican-American community.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210392
CONTENTdm number36363
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