Oral Histories

Interview of Harvey Schechter

Anti-Defamation League's Pacific Southwest regional director of civil rights and fact-finding. Involved with the Chicano civil rights group the Community Service Organization.
Community Service Organization Oral Histories
Latina and Latino History
Social Movements
Community Activism
Biographical Note:
Anti-Defamation League's Pacific Southwest regional director of civil rights and fact-finding. Involved with the Chicano civil rights group the Community Service Organization.
Espino, Virginia
Schechter, Harvey
Persons Present:
Schechter and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Harvey Schechter's home in Beverly Hills, 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, UCLA 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 Community Service Organization 1940-1990 papers 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. Schechter was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and and made a few corrections. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
4.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The Community Service Organization, commonly known as the CSO, was founded in 1947 as a civil rights advocacy group that boasted a multi-ethnic membership. Individuals selected for this oral history series resided in Los Angeles during the 1940s and joined the Community Service Organization during its formative years. The combined narratives of these interviews highlight war-time community life and outline historical precursors to the Chicano Movement.
Early family history; Ethnic make-up of neighborhood; Contracting rheumatic fever in 1931; Childhood life with rheumatic fever; Growing up in Brooklyn, New York; Grandmother's cold water flat; Depression conditions; Brother's secret marriage; Applying to La Loma Feliz, a residential school for children; Pearl Harbor; Riding a horse to college campus in Santa Barbara; Campus dynamics during World War II; Impact of being rejected for military service; Pressure on men to join U.S. military; Dr. Richter's complicated personality; Father's liberal views; Anti-Semitism in New York; Arriving in Santa Barbara; Near death experience in 1980; Language in the home; Mother insists that sister continue education despite father's desire for her to stop; Mother's influence on academic achievement; Applying to Texas A & M; Tracking not a part of educational experience; Jewish parents did not want children to enter factories as they had; Gender and educational advancement.
Mexican presence, or lack of, in Santa Barbara; Moving to Los Angeles; Working as a bell hop in Santa Barbara; Rejected for military induction; Reflections/Memories on Japanese internment; Applying to UCLA; Project to study the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU); Meets Hope Mendoza; Political interests while at UCLA; Meaning and/or understanding of Communism; Feelings toward McCarthy Era probes; Jews exit Communist Party; Meaning of Communist Party functionary; ILGWU and union democracy project for UCLA; Observations on the ILGWU; Unity House; ILGWU health clinic; Non-kosher activities for ILGWU on behalf of Hope Mendoza; Gender discrimination in the union; Hope resigns from the ILGWU; Hope's gripes with the ILGWU; Courtship with Hope Mendoza; Hope's other suitors; Hope's qualities as labor organizer; Searching for a home in the San Fernando Valley; the Community Service Organization (CSO).
Impressions of the ILGWU and its management style; Nepotism in the ILGWU; Ethnic make-up of ILGWU; Involvement in the Community Service Organization (CSO); Tension between the Jewish and the Mexican political activists; Hope Mendoza Schechter's political influence; Socializing with Edward and Lucille Roybal; Decision not to have children; Comparison of Jewish, Latino, and African American organizations; Characteristics of Jewish organizations; Characteristics of CSO fundraisers; Personal philanthropic goals; Lack of financial resources in the East Los Angeles community; Role with CSO; Work with the Anti-Defamation League; Effort to win Fair Employment Practice; Ethnic discrimination in the 1950s; Unruh Civil Rights Act; Tunney versus Brown election; Investigating hate groups for the Anti-Defamation League; Jews in Nazi organizations; Camelback Inn and anti-Semitism; Reflections on current Arizona law SB 1070.