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Voces Oral History Project Interview with Carmen Danna

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0:49 - Introductions/Background Information

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Segment Synopsis: Carmen Danna was born in San Antonio, TX and grew up in Devine, TX. She discusses getting used to living in a small town and when she began to see discrimination at a young age. "It was kind of difficult back then." Danna was bilingual and was not allowed to speak Spanish in school, "we were discouraged from speaking our language."

Keywords: Devine, TX; San Antonio, TX

Subjects: Discrimination in education; Education, Bilingual; Spanish (language)

6:55 - Exposure to Discrimination/Education

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Segment Synopsis: Danna describes her exposure and experience with discrimination. She explains an encounter she had when she was younger, a teacher from St. Joseph's had told her she couldn't hold hands with her sister because her sister was Hispanic. She then describes another encounter she had with discrimination when she went to St. Joseph's church with her sisters and an anglo mother told her daughter not to drink from the same water fountain as Danna and her sisters because they were Hispanic. "You learned early on what it meant to be Hispanic."

Danna then talks about her early education, starting at St. Joseph's then continued her education in a public school, Devine Elementary.

Danna describes her experience at Devine High School. Explaining that she knew what it meant to be Hispanic, meaning she wouldn't get called on or encouraged as much. However, she recalls a teacher, Mrs. Rice that was a role model for her. Danna explains that most teachers thought she wouldn't amount to much, suggesting that she would be best suited as a secretary. "They never talked to me about going to college."

Keywords: Anglos; Devine Elementary; Devine High School; Devine,TX; Mrs. Rice; St.Joseph's, Catholic Church, Devine TX

Subjects: Colleges; Discrimination in education; Hispanic American Catholics

14:56 - Parents Influence on Education/College

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Segment Synopsis: Danna talks about how her parents encouraged her to continue her education in college. Explaining that education was always a big part of her and her siblings life. That her mom had always bought her siblings and her books when growing up and was an important part of their lives.

When deciding to go to college, Danna says her decision stemmed from getting a $500 scholarship. Explaining that if she hadn't gotten that scholarship she couldn't afford to go to college. She had decided to go to Southwest Texas Junior College because her brother had previously gone.

At Southwest Texas Junior College, Danna described her experience and an encounter she had with discrimination. When she was elected the college queen, another (anglo) girl had a float and was going around promoting herself as a queen when she was not. "We knew what this was about, there was two hispanics taking the float away from the anglo family... this was the first time where it became clear that discrimination was still here."

Keywords: Community college; Southwest Texas Junior College; Uvalde, TX

Subjects: Access to higher education; College students—Education; Discrimination in higher education

28:45 - Texas A&I Experience/Career

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Segment Synopsis: Danna talks about her experience at Texas A&I and why she decided to major in education and explained that for a girl back then you could only get into nursing or teaching. "I love the thought of teaching," Danna said.

By the time she graduated from college, her husband was already in the Air Force. When he was transferred to Germany, Danna began working as a substitute in the DOD (Department of Defense) schools.

She explains how she became an orator and how her mother encouraged her to read a loud, "your parents are your first teachers."

Keywords: Kingsville, TX; Military service

Subjects: Air Force Association; Department of Defense Schools; Texas A & I University; University System of South Texas

35:30 - Discrimination in Career Field

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Segment Synopsis: Danna describes an occurrence in 1979 where she encountered discrimination after coming back from Germany to her home town of Devine, TX. She became a first grade teacher and explains that after the first couple days of teaching some anglo parents didn't want her to teach their children. She learned from principle Mr. Severa that it was because she was Mexican-American. However, Danna stood up and fought back and ended up staying as their first grade teacher.

Danna explained that she was surprised that this happened after just coming back from Germany where there was a lot of diversity among the teachers at the DOD schools.

Keywords: Devine,TX; Mexican American; Mr. Severa

Subjects: Discrimination in education; Education in Germany

42:17 - Bilingual Education

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Segment Synopsis: Danna describes how Devine ISD tried to incorporate bilingual education and how Anglo teachers were trying to fight it. Explaining that she learned that Devine was not the right place to get training and certification in bilingual education and that it would be better to get it in San Antonio.

Danna describes how she got a job teaching in South San Antonio ISD after receiving her bilingual certification and became a reading specialist. She then decided to get her masters degree from Incarnate Word University in San Antonio and continued teaching. Soon after, she got an offer to teach as a reading specialist at Northside ISD.

Keywords: Anglos; Devine ISD; Devine,TX; Incarnate Word University, San Antonio, TX; Northside ISD; San Antonio, TX; South San Antonio ISD

Subjects: bilingual education

49:49 - The Impact of Education on Minorities and the Hispanic Culture

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Segment Synopsis: Danna explains why education is important and how important it is to embrace who you are. "Our names is our culture... you have to be proud of who you are."

Danna describes how education has impacted her children and her life. She reflects on how she grew up and discusses the disparities in the education system. She explains that she doesn't think the disparities in Hispanics are going to die.

Danna talks about another encounter she had with discrimination in later years when she was with her husband at a restaurant. Danna said they stopped at a restaurant in Hondo, TX and a table of anglo hunters were talking about Mexicans on their ranch. Danna said she felt like she needed to do something so she went over to that table and said, "do you know that you are talking about Mexicans like they are nothing? Do you know that I am Mexican? Next time you are talking about Mexicans remember my hand on yours and that we are human."

Keywords: Anglos; Mexican American neighborhood

Subjects: Farm workers; Hispanics (United States); Spanish-surnamed people (United States)