Oral Histories

Interview of Grace Montañez Davis (2008)

Member of the Community Service Organization. Administrative assistant to member of the U.S. House of Representatives, George E. Brown, Jr. and first Mexican-American woman to serve as deputy mayor of Los Angeles.
Mexican American Civil Rights Pioneers: Historical Roots of an Activist Generation
Latina and Latino History
Biographical Note:
Member of the Community Service Organization. Administrative assistant to member of the U.S. House of Representatives, George E. Brown, Jr. and first Mexican-American woman to serve as deputy mayor of Los Angeles.
Espino, Virginia
Davis, Grace Montañez
Persons Present:
Davis and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Davis's home in Los Angeles, California.
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 Virginia Espino Program Coordinator for Latina and Latino History, UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research B.A., psychology, UC Santa Cruz; Ph.D., history, Arizona State University.Espino prepared for the interview researching the Grace Davis Papers, 1940-1990 housed at UCLA's Chicano Studies Resource Center. The Historical Los Angeles Times database was consulted along with various secondary sources on Los Angeles Chicano politics and civic life.
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. Davis was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few 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.
11 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The purpose of this series is to document the social justice activism of the Mexican American generation and to explore family and community life in war-time Los Angeles. Individuals selected for this series resided in Los Angeles during the 1930s and 1940s and began their civic participation prior to 1960. Represented groups include a wide range of activists, including labor, political, and educational activists. Their combined experience underscores war-time community life and outlines the historical precursors to the Chicano Movement.
Family background in Mexico; Parents’ marriage in Fresno; Adopted brother; Biological brothers; Tuberculosis; Olive View Sanitarium; Lincoln Heights; Grace’s home birth; Italian neighbors; Our Lady of Help Christians; Religious processions; Albion Street School; Harassment by Italian children; Immigration raid; Early living conditions; St. Joseph altar table; Parents employment; Use of Spanish and English; Parents valued school attendance; Fear of immigration raids.
Early childhood; Immigration raid; Italian community of Lincoln Heights; 1930s earthquake; Our Lady Help of Christians; Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) Camp; Penny Lunch; African Americans; Parents active in Catholic Church; Parents attend night school English classes; Tuberculosis; Olive View Sanitarium; Chico Montañez’s experiences growing up; Zoot Suits; World War II; Louis Mendoza’s experiences; Early living conditions; Brother worked to buy suits; Sacred Heart elementary; Mexican neighbors; Sacred Heart Academy; High value on education; Immaculate Heart College; Class dynamics at Sacred Heart; Young People’s Club, Our Lady Help of Christians Church; Science; Named most likely to succeed.
Early childhood; living conditions; Mexican neighbors; Church participation; Neighborhood life; Father’s ingenuity; Old Chinatown; Downtown movie theatres; Italian neighbors; Adopted brother; World War II; Religious practices; Parent’s hospitalization; Japanese internment; Upward mobility; Depression; Italian traditions; Immaculate Heart College; Science; UCLA science department; Ethnic diversity in department; Social life at Immaculate Heart; Neighborhood celebration of Immaculate Heart graduation; Parent support during college years; UCLA social life; Paul Robeson; Buddy Collette; Non-Mexican college friends; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); “Liberal” ideas; Dorothy Healy; Communism; Anti-communism; George E. Brown; Dionicio Morales; Employment at the University of Southern California (USC).
Marriage to Ray C. Davis; Dating a non-Latino; Community Service Organization (CSO) involvement; Roybal county supervisor campaign (1958); Voter registration campaign; Jewish activist Marian Graff; Gender roles; Participation of labor; Delaying childbearing; Working while pregnant; Parents' support of non-traditional gender role; Husband shared domestic responsibilities; J.J. Rodriquez; Working for Roybal’s campaign; Working for George Brown; Roger Johnson, Roybal’s campaign manager; Multiethnic support for Roybal; Congressional support between Gus Hawkins, Edward Roybal and George Brown; Brown v. Board of Education; Los Angeles’ segregated schools; Naturalization efforts; Teaching naturalization classes on the Westside; Teaching naturalization classes in Lincoln Heights; Naturalization class student make-up; Benefits of citizenship; Working at a polling location; Pat Brown;Issues of concern; Julian Nava’s election to the school board; Conflict with Julian Nava; Los Angeles buildings named after Edward Roybal; Roybal’s concern for the spread of tuberculosis; Henrietta Villasescusa; Health care; Roybal’s family; Tenth anniversary of the Community Service Organization; Fair Elections Committee; Voter irregularities during Roybal’s 1958 campaign for Los Angeles Supervisor.