Fronteras: Latinos Share Life Stories During COVID-19 Pandemic In New Oral History Project
Oral history has a way of transforming black-and-white, two-dimensional events from the past into full technicolor stories with a personal touch. Since 1999, the University of Texas at Austin’s Voces Oral History Project has been the leading Latinx oral history archive, chronicling the stories of those who’ve served in the military, fought for civil rights and helped build the foundation for civic and political engagement for future generations.
A more recent phenomenon has sparked a new collection for Voces — the coronavirus pandemic plaguing the Latinx community.
The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases reported than any other country in the world, with over 6 million people infected. As transmission continues to spread, communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the worst effects of the virus, especially Latinxs.
They’re overrepresented in essential jobs, largely lack access to healthcare, and those who are undocumented may be weary of seeking help from the government out of fear their legal status would be exposed.
As the crisis unfolds, the Voces Oral History Center is leading a team of higher education institutions — including Rutgers University, University of Nebraska at Omaha and Northern Illinois University — to record and archive personal accounts of the pandemic’s effects on the Latinx community.
Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez is a professor of journalism at U.T. Austin, and is director of the Voces Oral History Center.
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