REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH VIRGINIA ESPINO
Virginia Espino is a native daughter of California, born and raised in northeastern Los Angeles. She is an interviewer, project coordinator, and historian of Latina and Latino history for UCLA’s Center for Oral History Research. Her doctoral research on the history of coercive sterilization at the Los Angeles-USC Medical Center provided the impetus for the documentary film, No Más Bebés (No More Babies), for which she was a Producer and Lead Historian. No Más Bebés is the story of Mexican immigrant mothers who sued Los Angeles county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth during the 1970s. Led by an intrepid 26 year-old Chicana lawyer armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing young doctor, the mothers faced public exposure and stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice. Their landmark 1975 civil rights lawsuit, Madrigal v. Quilligan, asserted that a woman’s right to bear a child is guaranteed under the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. In her position at UCLA, she has conducted numerous oral histories with major figures in the California Latina/o community building a valuable archive for scholars and the public at large. Her oral history series “La Batalla Está Aquí: The Chicano/a Movement in Los Angeles,” relates the intimate eyewitness stories of those who brought radical activism to the streets of Southern California during the Vietnam War era. Key figures in this interview series include Chicano filmmaker, Jesus Treviño, Chicana feminist Anna Nieto-Gomez and Brown Beret member Gloria Arellanes. Her oral history series “Mexican American Civil Rights Pioneers” documents 1960s civic activism and its precursors in the Los Angeles and Southwest of the 1940s and 50s. In addition to interviewing, Espino teaches oral history theory and methodology in the Southern California region and is an active member in both the Southwest Oral History Association and the Oral History Association. Several of her essays have been published in the Chicano Studies Journal, Aztlan.