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Born in San Francisco, California, Maria Elena Rodriguez is a Latin Mexican Filipino television writer. Exposed to sewing at a young age by her grandmother, Rodriguez was able to use this skill during the AIDS pandemic where she participated in sewing sections of the AIDS quilt. Her skill for sewing eventually helped her again later during the Coronavirus pandemic where she became a member of the Auntie Sewing Squad and sewed masks for underprivileged communities.

Thematic Summary

(00:03:40) Maria Elena Rodriguez describes her childhood growing up in a big middle-working class immigrant family and learning basic sewing skills from her grandmother. (00:15:41) Rodriguez then goes into detail about how she got involved in sewing the AIDS quilt in the 80s while she was living in San Francisco with neighbors who were gay and who died of AIDS. (00:21:53) She explains how she came across a Facebook post that was offering people free fabric and talking about joining the Auntie Sewing Squad and she just started making many masks with a Costco sewing machine she bought and had to figure out how to use. (00:30:18) When asked about frustrations with politics and government during her volunteerism with ASS, Rodriguez expressed frustration with the government and politicians lack of involvement with the supply of PPE and safety during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (00:46:10) Rodriguez ends the interview by reflecting on favorite memories from ASS, explaining that everyone comes together in a time of crisis to help one another, and leaves us with parting words of inspiration to never accept that something is the way that it is and that it cannot change.

Interview Date



Kaylee McCargar; Kenna Skye Bokhari

Interview with Maria Elena Rodriguez

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