Oral Histories

Interview of Félix Gutiérrez

University of Southern California professor of journalism and communication. University of Southern California professor of american studies and ethnicity. First executive director of the California Chicano News Media Association and senior vice president of the Freedom Forum and the Newseum.
"La Batalla Está Aquí": The Chicana/o Movement in Los Angeles
Latina and Latino History
Social Movements
Chicano Movement
Espino, Virginia
Gutiérrez, Félix
Persons Present:
Gutiérrez and Espino.
Place Conducted:
University of Southern California 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 Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement by Carlos Muñoz, Chicano Politics Reality and Promise 1940-1990 by Juan Gomez, 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. 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. Gutiérrez 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.
9.5 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; Carvajal colony for "New Christians"; Grandfather attends Protestant Seminary; Mother's birth; Mother's experience during the Mexican Revolution; Mother's education; Los Conquistadores and the importance of a college education; Father's family history; Settling in California pre-United States conquest; Grandfather’s cement contracting firm; Grandfather becomes deputy mayor in Monrovia; Father's birth; Father's newsletter, The Mexican Voice; Mother's experience growing up in Arizona; Education for Mexicans in Texas during the 1920s and 1930s; Difference between Texas and Arizona primary school experience for Mexicans; Mother's Master's thesis topic; Mexican Schools in Arizona; Mother's work with Los Conquistadores; Parents activism through Los Conquistadores and the Mexican Youth Conference; Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) camps for Mexican kids; Mexican American Movement (MAM); Segregation in Southern California; Mother's failed attempt to gain employment as a teacher; Parent's values; Father's untimely death; Moving to South Pasadena; Mother's pride in her Mexican heritage; Personal feelings towards the Spanish language; Being one of a few Mexicans in South Pasadena; Tolerating racism in South Pasadena; Understanding race difference; Influential adults; Participating in the Boys Scouts; Youth ministry; Race in South Pasadena; Interest in journalism; Excelling in English; Pride in writing skills; 1950s school paper culture; Lack of minority representation in the media; Role as editor of the high school paper; Running for California State Los Angeles (CSULA) student body president; Finding a succeeding editor to the college paper; Using school paper to address race and ethnic issues; Family experience with local politics and Edward Roybal; Mother receives visit from Edward Roybal; May Day celebration during elementary school; Feelings toward the Spanish language; Impressions of Mexico on first visit; Transformative experience during visit to Mexico; Developing a sense of community responsibility; Advantages of attending South Pasadena schools.
Profile of grandfather; Grandparents move to Monrovia; Family settles in Mexican part of Monrovia; Father's childhood stories; Story of grandfather’s work laying cement for a swimming pool exclusively for whites; Grandfather's ideology; Early lessons about race and acceptance; Multiracial neighborhood of Father’s childhood; Father loses mother at an early age; Father's unconventional upbringing; Parents domestic roles; Childhood neighborhood; Move to Ontario; Role of religion in family and community life; Uncle Rosalio Muñoz Sr. moves to California; Extended family and community; Father’s political orientation; Parents community consciousness; Father’s ideology in contrast to other people's perceptions; Father’s choice of wood cuts for Mexican Voice; Father's belief in self-help; Articles in The Mexican Voice; Father's illness; Father's lessons by example; Father's community involvement; Favorite family periodicals; Role of Methodism in family life; History of the Latinos in Methodist Church; Philosophy of the Methodist Church; Experiences with Methodist and Catholic Churches; Attending Lincoln High School; Finding a sanctuary in the school library; Relationship with community kids at Lincoln High School; Corporal punishment at Lincoln School; Considered the "Profe" among classmates. (Unknown cause ends session abruptly).
Parent's ethnic identification; Family traces history back to late 1700’s California; Family identity; Family's Jewish roots; Mother's self-help philosophy; Identity; Parent's ideology challenges the notion of the melting pot; Grandfather's view of education; Grandparents encourage their sons and daughters to continue education; Religious and formal education; College information night in a Los Angeles Unified School; Visiting the University of Southern California (USC) with father; Childhood clubs; Impact of move to South Pasadena; Deciding which college to attend; South Pasadena High School; Influential teacher at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA); Working on teacher credential; Surveying history textbooks for references to Mexican Americans; Student teaching in Mexican schools; Tolerating racism while a student at CSULA; "Go along to get along" attitude; Winning CSULA student body election in 1964; Chicano identity; Co-founding EPIC (Educational Participation in Communities); program; Goals of EPIC; Working for EPIC; EPIC moves from community service to paid work; Changes that occurred with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Immigration Law of 1965; Importance of the War on Poverty; Kicking Pad and drug rehabilitation under the Economic Youth Opportunity Council; Lack of Chicano reporters in the 1960s; Fiesta del Barrio and the news media; Chicano journalists; Spanish language radio stations CALI and KWKW; Pushing press releases by foot in the late 60s; Difference in media coverage today with coverage in the 1960s.
Relationship with Ruben Salazar; Latinos in the media during the late 1960s; Meeting Ruben Salazar for the first time; Pitching stories to Ruben Salazar; March and demonstration for Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) expansion at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA); Being shut out of mainstream journalism; Deciding to make an impact in the classroom; Ralph Guzman compiles statistics of Vietnam casualties; Ruben Salazar’s column; The death of Ruben Salazar; Difficulty for minority reporters in a white dominated newsroom; Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) Inter-Agency conference in Texas; Generational conflict at the conference; Definition of “establishment”; Ruben Salazar as a member of the establishment; Reflections on Ralph Guzman; Ralph Guzman’s personal and political connections; Graduating with a Master’s Degree; Landing a job with the Educational Participation in Communities project; First meeting with United Mexican American Students (UMAS); Ideological make-up of UMAS; UMAS’ position on war; Anti-war not a top issue for UMAS; Issues and priorities in 1967; General agreement on anti-war position did not exist in 1967; Chicano identity; Differing political objectives between Los Angeles UMAS groups; LBJ’s Inter-agency Cabinet Committee on Mexican American Affairs; Hess Kramer meeting of Chicano leadership; Critique of LBJ’s Interagency Cabinet Committee meeting; Generational differences between World War II generation and Chicanos; Encountering racism in Texas; Lack of female presence at LBJ’s Interagency hearings; Edward Roybal speaks about LBJ at the Hess Kramer meeting; Three important issues for Chicano leadership: Anti-war campaign and green card workers.
October 1977 Hess Kramer meeting; President Johnson's inter-agency committee to examine Mexican American affairs; Meeting of Mexican American leaders in preparation for President Johnson's conference; Camp Hess Kramer; Organizing for Johnson's meeting; Learning about father's life experience after his death; Description of father's death; Father's personality and self-help philosophy; Moderate tone of The Mexican Voice; Racism in South Pasadena when trying to buy a house; Cultural differences with move to South Pasadena; Restrictive covenants in South Pasadena; Racism at the South Pasadena swimming pool; Moving back to South Pasadena with family; Benefit of an early exposure to Anglos; President Johnson's El Paso "hearing" on Mexican American issues; Younger Chicanos challenge older generation at Johnson's hearing on Mexican American issues; Evaluation of the War on Poverty; Cleland House and other Presbyterian social service institutions; The Reverend Tony Hernandez; Anti-Vietnam War sentiment; Registering with the draft board; Reflections on U.S. citizenship; Reflections on patriotism; Negotiating the draft; More on anti-Vietnam war sentiment; Chicano veterans in the Movement.
Choosing journalism as a field of study; Experience in Stanford's communications program; Chicano cohort in Stanford's communications program; Studying Latino media and Spanish language radio; Studying the internal colonial model; Dissertation on Spanish language radio; Historical structure of Spanish language radio; Changes in Spanish language radio during the 1960s; Eddie Moreno and local news on Spanish radio; Characteristics of Spanish language "locutores"; Rationale for focusing on Spanish language radio; Three factors that lead to growth in Spanish language radio listeners; Choosing a career path in the media; Inability to land a job in journalism; Rosalio Muñoz visits Stanford after the 1970s Moratorium; On the job market in Los Angeles; Teaching Chicano journalism at California State University, Northridge (CSUN); CSUN newspaper, The Sundial; United Mexican American Students (UMAS) at CSUN; Commitment to the Chicano Movement conflicts with family responsibilities; Influence of parents in shaping professional goals; Role as one of a few Chicanos in academic journalism; Inability to land a job in mainstream journalism; Launching diversity programs in journalism; Moving beyond tokenism in the newsroom; Denies founding Chicano News Media Association; Early meetings of the Chicano News Media Association; Early Chicano news media journalists gain celebrity status; Success of the Chicano News Media Association; From Chicano to Hispanic journalists; Winning large grant to develop Chicano and Latino journalist organization; Organizing journalists in the future; Twenty-first century issues for Chicano journalists; Reflections on leaving a legacy; Reflections on Methodist philosophy.