Oral Histories

Interview of Ricardo Muñoz

Los Angeles lawyer and administrative law judge with the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Important in the fight for a living wage ordinance and for a new high school.
Series:
"La Batalla Está Aquí": The Chicana/o Movement in Los Angeles
Topic:
Latina and Latino History
Social Movements
Chicano Movement
Interviewer:
Espino, Virginia
Interviewee:
Muñoz, Ricardo
Persons Present:
Muñoz and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Muñoz's home in South Pasadena, 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.
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. Muñoz 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:
10 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
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 and great grandfather's troubled childhood in Mexico; Great grandfather's serious illness and life transformation; Great grandmother abandons Catholicism for Protestantism; Learning Bible stories from grandparents as an important part of childhood; Grandparents meet in Nuevo Leon, Mexico; Possible causes for grandparents' migration to the United States; Comparison of Catholic and Protestant teachings; Recollections of grandparents and their role in the family; Grandfather's involvement in civic organizations; Father's love of history and value for the democratic process; Father's first job teaching in Arizona; Mother's difficult time trying to find work after college; Parents' experience working in education in the town of St. Johns, Arizona; Father's involvement in the student group Los Conquistadores; Father's United States Navy experience; Recollections of father's return from military service; Childhood memories of life in Flagstaff, Arizona; Re-locating to Los Angeles and the differences between Arizona and California; Reflections on the importance of good shoes; The value mother place on outward presentation.
Childhood experiences living in the Maravilla Housing Projects; Friendship with the Jenson family who lived in the Projects; Cultural differences with the Jenson family; Growing awareness of differences, but unaware of stereotypes; Parent's understanding of other racial groups; Elementary school recollections; Father's involvement in community groups; Father's example as an avid reader; Mother's example as a parent advocate; Early childhood school experiences in the home and neighborhood.
Moving to Highland Park from Lincoln Heights during middle school years; Attending Franklin High School in Highland Park; Experience moving to a big house in Highland Park; Experience in ROTC; Ethnic diversity at Nightingale Middle School; Playground fun at Nightingale Middle School; Nightingale school experiences with corporal punishment and school violence; Early entrepreneurship selling pastries at school; Saturday shopping at the Grand Central Market; Middle and high school experience; Experience with tracking at Franklin High School; Experience with financial constraints during high school; Transition from attending a multi-ethnic junior high to a predominantly Anglo high school; Self-identity as Mexican American before the Chicano Movement; Language used in the home and with extended family; Experience traveling with father through Mexico; Learning about Mexican life through family and family vacations to Mexico.
Family vacations to Mexico; Experience during first few years at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Academic challenges at UCLA; Parent's financial contribution to higher education; Impact of family vacations to Mexico; Work with gang violence prevention; Insights learned from work with youth in gangs; Working as a student worker for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission; First impressions of UCLA; Experience working with incarcerated youth; Dissecting the gang hierarchy in order to defuse power; Experience working at the Camp Hess Kramer Student Leadership Conference; Impact of Camp Hess Kramer on high school students; Franklin High School cohort at UCLA; Personal awareness of race in high school; Dating issues during high school; Developing career and professional goals; Deciding to apply to UCLA School of Law; Impact of the Chicano Movement on career choice; The establishment of a legal clinic in East Los Angeles; Experience with the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) program.
Experience with new curriculum at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Law School; Learning about the law through the Black experience; Working an internship at California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA); Deciding on a legal specialty; Role as a community lawyer through the Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship; Involvement with appeal hearings and welfare recipients; Memories of legal victories in administrative law; 1970s courtroom dynamics; Poverty lawyers under the Great Society; Working on legal cases with law students of color; Experience with community activist and lawyer Antonio Rodriguez; Reflections of experience with lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta; Identity and the Chicano Movement; Shifting ethnic make-up on the UCLA campus; Parent's reaction to the term Chicano; UCLA Chicano Law School students' role on admissions committees; Chicano concept of community service.
Role planning of the Chicano Moratorium; Experience the day of the Moratorium; Finding out about the death of Ruben Salazar; Attempts to maintain safety on the day of the march; Experience with David Sanchez; Reflections on Rosalio Muñoz's involvement in the draft resistance movement; Reporting for draft physical; Aftermath of the August 29th Chicano Moratorium; Positive aspects of the Chicano Movement; Sexism in Chicano Movement organizations; Joining the legal team at Model Cities Center for Law and Justice; Experience working in administrative law; Experience working on desegregation and education cases.
A typical work day of a poverty lawyer; Community created at Model Cities Law Center; Reflections on the Mexican American Lawyer's Club; Community organizations of the Chicano Movement; Reflections on the Madrigal sterilization case; Commentary on wife's ability to gain parent's permission to attend college; Reflections on jealousy within the Latino community; Commentary regarding Antonio Villaraigosa's decline in popularity among Chicano activists and Gil Cedillo's continued commitment to his ideals; Selection as an administrative judge; Final commentary on life's accomplishments; Perspective on contemporary situation for Chicanos.