Oral Histories

Interview of Julian Nava

United States Ambassador to Mexico. First Mexican American member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and California State University, Northridge professor of history.
Series:
Mexican American Civil Rights Pioneers: Historical Roots of an Activist Generation
Topic:
Latina and Latino History
Interviewer:
Espino, Virginia
Interviewee:
Nava, Julian
Persons Present:
Nava and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Nava's home in Valley Center, 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 by researching the Julian Nava Collection housed at California State University, Northridge. The Historical Los Angeles Times database was consulted along with various secondary sources on Los Angeles Chicano history, 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. Nava 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.
Length:
12 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
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; Mexican Revolution; Immigration to the United States; Recollections of father; U.S. relocation efforts during the Great Depression; The Navas decide to relocate to Zacatecas, Mexico; Emergency appendix surgery and the need to stay in the United States; Community dynamics while living on 66th Street in South Los Angeles; Returning to the "barrio"; Repatriation experience; Father’s death; Growing up Mexican in East Los Angeles; Mother abandons the Catholic religion; Reflections on the Presbyterian Church and community; Formative elementary school teachers and experiences; Family responsibilities as a child; Parent’s character and beliefs.
Depression era culture; Joining the U.S. Navy; Reflections on Japanese relocation; East Los Angeles and Pomona College experiences; Challenges at Harvard University; Sue Sizer and Dear John letter; Graduation from Pomona College; Survival strategies at Harvard; Education philosophy; School tracking in the Los Angeles Unified School District; Demanding geometry, algebra and physics at Roosevelt High School; 1940s military experiences; Being Mexican in the U.S. Military; Atomic bomb and the end of the war.
Depression era culture; Joining the U.S. Navy; Reflections on Japanese relocation; East Los Angeles and Pomona College experiences; Challenges at Harvard University; Sue Sizer and Dear John letter; Graduation from Pomona College; Survival strategies at Harvard; Education philosophy; School tracking in the Los Angeles Unified School District; Demanding geometry, algebra and physics at Roosevelt High School; 1940s military experiences; Being Mexican in the U.S. Military; Atomic bomb and the end of the war.
Experience with first teaching job in Spain; Spanish teaching style; Similarities between Spanish culture and Mexican culture; Identity issues upon return from Colombia; Chicano Movement at California State University, Northridge; Unity between Blacks and Latinos at California State University, Northridge; Personal understanding of Vietnam War and the Chicano Movement; Cuban Missile Crisis; Appointment of Rudy Acuña at California State University, Northridge; Difference between Chicano and Black struggle; Working relationship with Rudy Acuña; Reflections on separatism and Chicano Movement; Adopting the term Chicano; Competition between Blacks and Chicanos for same resources; Wiretap of home and office; FBI fears of Chicano Movement radicalism; Black and Brown power movements; Failed attempt at "Brown" capitalism through a savings and loan experiment; Legal troubles resulting from attempt to create minority company; Campaign for the Board of Education; Campaign to eliminate culturally biased standardized tests; East Los Angeles Walkouts; Conversation with Sal Castro and the Brown Berets about police attempts to frame them; Lincoln High School Walkout meeting and the 92 demands by parents in East Los Angeles; Campaign to end "swatting" of students as form of punishment; East Los Angeles parents campout at Los Angeles Board meeting.