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An Interview With Jose Pedro Cedillo
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Jose Pedro Cedillo
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded May 27, 1981. 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. Interview is in Spanish.
NotesAt the time of the interview, Mr. Cedillo worked for the state of Missouri. He was born in Mexico in November, 1944. Lived in Texas illegally for several years. Came to Kansas City around 1960. In the interview he discusses his early life, education, jobs, family, etc.

Number 6 on MP3 disc.
Date1981-05-27
LocationSC69-1, Tape 7, CD 7
Local SubjectWest Side
Cedillo, Jose P.
Hispanic Americans
Oral History
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Mr. Cedillo works for the State of Missouri. Born on a ranch, "El Rancho Las Cruces de Jalisco," in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, in November 1944. Parents were Francisa Puga and Pedro Cedillo, both also born on the ranch. Family moved to Texas in 1946. Lived in McAllen, Texas, in the Texas Valley. Father worked in orchards. Because the family was in the U.S. illegally, they often had to return to Mexico and sneak back to U.S. in a small boat across the Rio Grande. Cedillo is the third oldest of ten children. Last seven all born in U.S.

Lived in same area near McAllen for several years. Most residents either Mexican or Mexican-American; population about 1500. Grandmother was already living in Texas; mother had spent time there and felt it offered better economic opportunity for the family. Attended school in McAllen; completed high school at Northeast in Kansas City. Started school knowing only two words in English: water and restroom. Had difficulty learning English at first but all the other students were in the same situation.

Family attended Catholic church. Played touch football in school, with neighborhood boys. Also little league baseball. Father began working for city of McAllen, then became a foreman in a tomato canning factory. Mother was homemaker; children worked to help family in the summer. An uncle moved to Kansas City sometime around 1953-1955. Family obtained passports to stay in U.S. legally and went to Indiana to work in the tomato fields. Canning factory in McAllen closed; father lost job. Family migrated to Michigan to work pepper and cherry crops around Saginaw, Alma, Traverse City. Finally came to Kansas City when Cedillo was about 16.

Graudated high school 1966, attended Penn Valley for 1 1/2 years. Dropped out because he was in a car accident and lacked money to continue. Held several part-time jobs as janitor, cashier, meter reader, pumping gas. Could not play sports in high school because of rules requiring one year's residence before joining a team. Difficult adjustment to life in Kansas City. Was used to being around all Mexicans and Mexican-Americans; had never seen a Black person until he was 13. Feels Texas teens were more active in school, competive. Found more racism and rivalries between factions in Kansas City; less emphasis on family unity.

After leaving Penn Valley, Cedillo sold insurance for John Hancock for two years. Sold STP oil products for a while in Des Plaines, Illinois. Met Maria Teresa Malagon, from a small village near Leon Guanajuato, Mexico. Married her in 1969; currently have four children (three girls and one boy). Family ties here have kept them in Kansas City. Belong to Redemptorist church, but often attends Guadalupe or Sagrado Corazon (Sacred Heart) to hear Spanish. Has belonged to some civic organizations but feels he does not have the time to socialize and participate as much as other members. Considers being a husband and father to be his primary obligation. Many of his friends died in Viet Nam. He did not serve. Obtained a job with Human Resources, then in February 1970 was hired by the State Employment Division. Job has primarily been to place Mexican-Americans in jobs. Is now working under contract with CETA, determining eligibility of applicants.

Was instrumental in starting Spanish-language program on KCEZ radio. Tries to vary the weekly program to include community announcements, different kinds of music. Show is non-profit, sponsored by West Side Neighborhood Association. Hopes to give Mexican-American youth the idea that there are alternatives in life staying in the barrio. Hopes eventually to open some small enterprise in southern Texas or Mexico. Wants to be his own boss. Thinks a store in Texas would do better because he could sell to recent Mexican arrivals without competition from major department stores.

Describes the positive influence a teacher had on his life. After Cedillo failed eighth grade because of being lazy and not doing homework, this teacher encouraged him to stop running with the gang. Credits teacher with changing his life from one of drugs and alcohol to one of success. Hopes Kansas City youth will stick with school, become good citizens because the alternatives never have good results.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210420
CONTENTdm number36379
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