Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Can

Si se puede.

Last night I had the honor of meeting the author of the book Migrant Daughter.  Our book club selection of the month, and one member had worked with the author when she was a teacher in the Mission District in San Francisco in the late 60's.  Frances Equibel Tywoniak celebrated her 82nd birthday with us last night at our book club.  We had a great time getting to know her and question her about her experiences as a migrant farmer's daughter during the depression and attending UC Berkeley in the 1949 as one of the few Mexican Americans on campus, much less a woman.

Born in 1931 in New Mexico, her family had lived on their land for several generations before being forced to move to California to work as migrant labor.  She navigated her parents culture with Spanish only spoken at home, her school culture with Anglos being assigned to a very different academic tract based solely on ethnicity, and society's ever changing view of who she was based on her last name, her neighborhood and her language.

Fran persevered and made choices, sometimes heartbreaking ones like when she broke up with a boy she really cared about because she knew he'd settle for living in the barrio his whole life and she wanted more.  She graduated from UC Berkeley, taught school in San Francisco and ultimately was principal of a high school in the Mission.  She had a fire in the belly and was always questioning her world.

She signed my book, 'Si se puede'   Yes, we can.

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  1. Aww nice. She would make a great WoM :)

  2. I am going to forward this to my mom. She is definitely of my mom's and grandmother's, well, between their generations, but definitely the same sort of experience. As someone who is still trying to make sense of pushing away my mother's heritage, this really speaks to me. (yeek! That sounds like a comment-bot!--"this really speaks to me"--you think I could come up with something better than that!)

    1. it's a great read. really puts a face on common experiences: ethnic, gender, economic biases. plus fascinating example of determination!