Friday, March 16, 2012

Lulu Launer and the United Nations

The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In: A History of Fullerton.

Lulu Launer was a school teacher in Fullerton for many years. Her husband, Albert Launer, was the city attorney of Fullerton, and had a law practice in town. The Launer Local History Room of the Fullerton Public Library is named after Albert and Lulu Launer, as they were active in the community, and a valuable resource of information about local history. Lulu Launer was interviewed in 1970 for the Cal State Fullerton Oral History Program.

At the time of the interview, Lulu was actively involved in a local chapter of a United Nations organization. She volunteered a lot of time helping raise money for various United Nations programs like UNICEF, The World Health Organization, and the International Labor Organization. At the time of the interview, she was busy planning for events and workshops celebrating the 25th anniversary of the United Nations. The theme of these events was "What can the United Nations do more effectively towards establishing and maintaining peace in the world?"

At this time (1970), the United Nations was viewed with skepticism, fear, and hostility by the conservative media and groups of Orange County. In her interview, Mrs. Launer elaborated on the powerful conservative climate of Orange County, and the difficulties it created for her work for the United Nations. When asked, "How do you feel about the conservatism of Orange County? Is it something that came into the county from the very beginning?" Launer replied:

"Yes, yes, I would think so. They [Fullerton's first residents] were a rural group who came here and they were very conservative in their thinking. I think the newspapers have probably had a lot of influence on it with the ultraconservative Santa Ana Register (now the Orange County Register)…Where the source of their information is, I just don't know. They get hold of the wildest rumors and statements about the Communists, in particular. They see an imaginary army marching on them. They think they're going to lose all their rights, their property and everything else. They don't check the source of their information."

The interviewer interjected, "They are like an old maid that's afraid there is a burglar under the bed."

Launer continued, "Even this year in Tustin, I think it was the school board that sent word that there was to be no mention or instruction in any way, shape or form about the United Nations in the Tustin schools. Well, now, are they ostriches that are just putting their heads in the sand?"

Despite the obstacles, Launer sounded determined and passionate about educating people and getting them involved in global issues like poverty, education, and social justice. She said, "In Orange County…we feel that every member that we get is a victory for the United Nations because it is only people of character who will stand up and say, 'I believe in the United Nations, and that is our hope for peace.' You have to get people with a certain amount of bravery to stand up and be counted and try to help. It is not fashionable in Orange County to be a member, but it is becoming more acceptable than it used to be."

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