Oral Histories

Interview of Rosalio Muñoz

Mexican American activist and co-chair of the Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War.
"La Batalla Está Aquí": The Chicana/o Movement in Los Angeles
Latina and Latino History
Social Movements
Chicano Movement
Biographical Note:
Mexican American activist and co-chair of the Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War.
Espino, Virginia
Muñoz, Rosalio
Persons Present:
Muñoz and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Mexican Cultural Institute offices 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, UCLA Center for Oral History Research. B.A., UC, Santa Cruz (Psychology); Ph.D., Arizona State University (History).Espino prepared for the interview by consulting numerous secondary sources on the history of the Chicana and Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, such as Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement by Carlos Muñoz, Chicano Politics Reality and Promise 1940-1990 by Juan Gomez Quinones, From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America by Vicki L. Ruiz, and Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice, by Ian F. Lopez Haney. The Historical Los Angeles Times database was consulted along with primary resources from the Chicana/o Movement housed at UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center.
25 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The interviews in this series document the ideological transformation of the Chicana and Chicano generation in Los Angeles. Dissatisfied with their position in U.S. society, Chicana and Chicano activists built a civil rights movement from the ground up. Interviewees were selected based on their experience as members or leaders of Chicana and Chicano Movement organizations from 1962 to 1978. Collectively the oral histories document a variety of social justice struggles that include, but are not limited to, educational improvement, union advocacy, voting and political rights, gender equality, and anti-war activism.
Early family history—Family culture--Mother graduates from college with high academic honors--Father's religious views--Father’s side of the family--Father moves to Texas--Segregation in schools—Father’s education--Challenges parents faced finding work due to discrimination against Mexican Americans--How parents met--Father joins the navy and returns home to work as a social worker--Move to Los Angeles--Father attends the University of Southern California to complete a master’s degree--Moves to Lincoln Heights--Childhood--Ethnic makeup of Lincoln Heights—Importance of sports in the family--Racism family faces while Muñoz is growing up--Two different religions in the family.
School experiences—The Los Angeles Times Boys Club experiences--Experience as a Mexican American student--Adventures with friends—Parental discipline--Relationship with siblings--Popular culture while growing up--Moves to Highland Park--Finds new friends in school and in neighborhood--Excels in school and is placed in advanced-level classes--Muñoz's differences with some of his teachers--Involvement in different school activities—Issues within the classroom--Works as a paperboy--Racism in schools--Travels to Mexico with father.
Experience as one of the few Mexican American students in school--Language choices made by parents--Education passed on from parents and siblings--Differences between parents’ families--Distinctions between Muñoz's cousins and himself--Political life as a student--Conflict with a right-wing teacher--Experiencing the Cold War--Adventures while traveling in Mexico for a year in 1962--Engages with Mexico’s culture--Experiences the carnival in Veracruz--Outcomes from traveling around Mexico--Mother's depression--Comes back to California and continues with school.
Influential teachers in high school--Favorite school subjects--Learning Spanish--Involvement in Spanish-speaking student organizations--Experience as a third-generation college student at UCLA--Muñoz's position on issues pertaining to African Americans in the sixties--The assassination of President John F. Kennedy--The importance of basketball in his life--The TJs and the Surfers--Interracial dating--First summer jobs and becoming politically active--Attends UCLA--Life at UCLA and first courses—Builds relationships with other UCLA students--Athletes from UCLA--The culture in the mid-sixties--Becomes a very active student at UCLA.
Second-year experiences at UCLA--Injures ankle--Academic and social life at UCLA--The Watts Riots--Gets a job at the Hall of Records--Starts the Experimental College at UCLA--Teaches a class called Affluence and Leisure--Initial ideas about the Experimental College--The start of instructor evaluations at UCLA--Forms part of the committee that reads the evaluations made by students--Classes took at UCLA--The dichotomy between the community and the university--The beginnings of the Chicano Movement--The UMAS (United Mexican American Students) conference--People involved in UMAS--Influential professors at UCLA, such as Lynn White--Starts to notice injustice in the university setting--Getting involved with UMAS--Experience listening to Reies Tijerina speak--Opening the university to diversity--Conflict between the Greek system and UMAS—Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign and UMAS—Beginnings of involvement in the Chicano Movement--Involvement with the admissions committee’s work at UCLA--Leading his first demonstration--Runs for student body president at UCLA.
Attire and identity issues--Embraces being a Chicano--The campaigns and the journey to the elections for student body president--Wins the election and becomes student body president at UCLA--Issues after his election--Support from the Chicano community--Challenges as president - Disarm Unicops (university cops)--La Follette hearings--The affirmative action program at the UCLA Law School--The University of California student body presidents' meeting with Governor Ronald Reagan--Experience in Upward Bound--Going to the University of California Board of Regents’ meetings--Differences between United American Students (UMAS) and the Black Student Union--Muñoz's commitment to the movement and the role he played.
The East Los Angeles Blowouts and the issues at the UCLA campus--Committee on Enrollment at UCLA--The High Potential Program--Increasing the number of Mexican Americans that attended UCLA--The impact of the student walkouts--The difference between UCLA and East LA--Working at UCLA and experience with other employees--How young men were dealing with the draft--Gets drafted on September 16, 1969--Decides to refuse induction--Travels all over California to get support from Chicanos--Speaks at conferences and works with Tony Salazar--The involvement of women in the Chicano Moratorium--The impact of women involved in the antiwar movement.
The participation of women in the Chicano Movement--The way work was divided up within the organizing and planning--Intellectual influences--Growing up on the east side of L.A.--The Chicano Moratorium--Reasons to be part of the Chicano Movement--Strong critique of machismo--Muñoz's ideology at the time of the Moratorium—The role of firearms in the movement--Ideology of the Moratorium committee--Violence during the Moratorium--The FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO)--The poverty program--Police repression--The first march after Muñoz refused induction in 1969--Goes to Chicago and connects with people involved in the movement in Chicago--Starts working full-time in East L.A.--Speaks at the National Moratorium on November 15th, 1970 in San Francisco--Organizing in Kansas City--Organizing the first Chicano Moratorium in East L.A.--Strategies for mobilizing--Things learned from the first moratorium--People that worked on the first moratorium.
Memorable aspects of the Chicano Moratorium--Disturbances during the march--The influence the Centro de Accion Social Autonoma (CASA) organization had on Muñoz—The progression of the march from peaceful to chaotic--Leaves the march to return to the moratorium headquarters--Bert Corona--The day after the march--The days after the moratorium—Ways that the Chicano Moratorium could have been improved--The groups that emerge during the time of the Chicano Moratorium--Meetings in unincorporated East L.A.--Issues with the deputies that were at the moratorium march—The sheriff’s reports on the moratorium--The community's response on the moratorium issues—Edward R. Roybal--Bloody Christmas--Trying to change the structure of the offices of the police and of the sheriff--Demanding justice for the killing of Ruben Salazar.
Plays basketball in high school--Few Chicanos present in school--Becomes close to the Chicano community that was against the war--“Chicanismo” as it was defined during the seventies--Rules or standards for being a Chicano/a--Interpersonal relationships--Dating interracially during the Chicano Movement--Events after the demonstration on August 29th--The march September 16, 1970--People involved in committees that helped the Chicano community--The purpose of the Moratorium Committee--Issues the Moratorium Committee had with the Brown Berets--Demonstration to defend the Moratorium Committee--Communism and the moratorium—The era of the Nixon administration.
Police and government repression—Perspective on communism--Individuals involved in the planning of the January 31st march--The purpose behind the demonstrations—Efforts to create social change among low-income Latinos--Personal feelings towards the police--Confrontations between the police and the community--Meetings with the police--Challenges during the press conference on February 1st, the day after the march--The development of La Raza Unida Party--The purpose of La Raza Unida Party and some of its members.
Activism that changes people’s thinking--Working to challenge a system of discrimination against Mexican Americans—Efforts to change people’s thinking before changing laws--Direction of the Marcha de la Reconquista--The election of Mayor Tom Bradley--The Brown Berets and La Raza Unida Party--La Reconquista--New influences among Chicano Movement organizations--The start of the Centro de Accion Social Autonoma (CASA) Foundation—The Chicano City Employees Association--The tearing down of neighborhoods--Moves toward organizing the adult community towards Chicano power--Starts working for the Center of Metropolitan Mission In-Service Training (COMMIT )—The origin of Model Cities--Places where Model Cities would hold their meetings--Invites Sam Yorty and Bradley to Lincoln High School for a debate--The Tom Bradley mayoral campaign--Changes after Bradley’s election--Implements projects beneficial to the Chicano community--Housing issues in Lincoln Heights--Immigration—An immigration march in 1973—Criticisms leveled at those who used the term “Chicano” or identified as such during the seventies--The Barrio Workshop--Starts working with the Catholic Church—The Interreligious Committee for Human Needs.
Impressions of Mayor Tom Bradley--The increase in the number of Mexican Americans getting jobs for the city—Efforts to incorporate East L.A.--Outcomes of the Chicano Movement--Important campaigns--Involvement in the East/Northeast Committee--Fights for tenants’ rights against the Bank of America Temple Beaudry--The evolution of electoral politics at the city council level--Agreement between the tenants from downtown Los Angeles and Bank of America.
Summary of activism during and at the end of the Vietnam War--Joins the Communist Party--Desire to help immigrant communities--Works with members of the CASA-MAPA organizations--Organizing immigrant workers--The start of Immigration Coalition--The Rodino Immigration Bills of 1975-- Bert Corona’s activism on behalf of immigrant workers--More on housing issues--Studies to become a priest for a brief time.
Terminology used for identity in the 1970s--Issues of welfare--Chicano power in the context of the U.S Constitution--Civil rights legislation--The Bracero Program--The idea of open borders--Forming the L.A Immigration Coalition--Activism on immigration issues--Silva letters--Impact of activism.