Oral Histories

Interview of Robert Farrell

Member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1974 to 1991.
Black Politicians of Los Angeles
African American History
Politics and Government
Biographical Note:
Member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1974 to 1991.
Greene, Sean
Farrell, Robert
Persons Present:
Farrell and Greene.
Place Conducted:
Farrell’s home.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Sean Greene, doctoral candidate, University of Pennsylvania.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Farrell was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
14 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series includes interviews with African Americans who were involved in Los Angeles politics from the 1940s to the present day. In addition to African American politicians, it includes individuals who could speak to the political history and influence of the black community in Los Angeles. The series was funded by a UCLA in L.A. Community Partnerships grant and was a joint effort between the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research and the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.
Upbringing in New Orleans—Migration to Newark, New Jersey—High school & work experiences—Migration to Los Angeles—Developing interest in the U.S. Navy.
Migration to Los Angeles—Enlisting in the U.S. Navy—Learning the seaman’s craft in the Navy— Returning to Los Angeles—Enrolling at UCLA.
Enrolling at UCLA—Student life and activism at UCLA—Exposure to Arab world and national liberation movements in the Middle East & Africa—Growing Negro consciousness—The color line in the U.S. Navy Officer Corp—Leaving the Navy.
Student life at UCLA—Student activism and civil rights at UCLA—Journalism & covering Black Los Angeles—Civil Rights movement and Black political development in the 1960s—Democratic Party factions—Black political landscape—Changing electoral landscape.
Freedom Rides and experiences in segregated Harris County Jail—Social and cultural world at UCLA—Exposure to Middle Eastern and Jewish cultures—Role as journalist and advocate for change—Issues confronting Negro community in L.A.—Changing political landscape in L.A.—Increased Black political representation in early 1960s—“Open” nature of politics in Black LA—Selection of Tom Bradley as mayoral candidate by community convention—Black political ascendancy in Los Angeles—Watts Rebellion 1965.
Post WWII development of African American community & political leadership—Civil Rights activism—Working at Loren Miller’s California Eagle & Leon Washington’s Los Angeles Sentinel—Mapping Los Angeles’ Negro community—Value of internationalist & transnationalist perspectives—Black social organization—Changing demographics of Black L.A.—L.A. city politics & federal funding—Working as field deputy to Councilman Billy Mills—Serving the 8th Council District—The influential Gilbert Lindsay.
Significance of recent election of Barack Obama as president of the U.S.—Working as field deputy for Billy Mills—Democratic factions—Organization of constituencies in the 8th and 10th districts—Tom Bradley’s first mayoral campaign.
Working on Tom Bradley’s 1969 mayoral campaign—John Tunney’s senatorial campaign- Pat Russell’s city council campaign—George McGovern presidential campaign—Divorce from first wife—Tom Bradley’s 1973 mayoral campaign—Serving on the Los Angeles City Council.
Politics of distribution on L.A. City Council—Change in civil service rules—Relationship with John Ferraro—Evolving understanding of the workings of the City of L.A.—Structure & makeup of the LA City Council—The role of business & private sector in development of L.A.—Role of organized labor & union structure in development of L.A.—Patterns of development in L.A.--Politics of commercial development in South L.A.
Contribution to community development in South LA—Southern California Association of Governments—National League of Cities—Democratic National Committee—African Liberation Solidarity work—Leaving public office—Life after public office—Participation on Boards—Jesse Jackson Presidential Campaigns—Tom Bradley for Governor campaign & the Bradley effect—Conflict on the Pacifica Foundation Board—President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Party—Demographic changes in South Los Angeles—California African American Political & Economic Institute.