Oral Histories

Interview of Raúl Ruíz

Journalist, photographer, and editor for La Raza, a Chicano-movement newspaper. Ran for office as a candidate of the first and only Mexican American political party, La Raza Unida Party.
"La Batalla Está Aquí": The Chicana/o Movement in Los Angeles
Latina and Latino History
Social Movements
Chicano Movement
Biographical Note:
Journalist, photographer, and editor for La Raza, a Chicano-movement newspaper. Ran for office as a candidate of the first and only Mexican American political party, La Raza Unida Party.
Espino, Virginia
Ruíz, Raúl
Persons Present:
Ruiz and Espino.
Place Conducted:
Ruiz's home in Northridge, 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.
15 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.
Family history--Childhood--Attends Alta Vista Elementary School--Plays the clarinet--Speaking Spanish in school is prohibited and punishable--Proud of his mother --Mother’s family --Dad’s visit to Juarez every weekend--Father’s religion--Type of punishments from parents--Moving to different homes and communities--Mother buys their first home--The start of gangs in El Paso, Texas--Strong men and women in Ruiz's family--Leaves job to attend college--Involved in many sports and activities during childhood--Ruiz's point of view on drugs--Interest in learning English--More on playing the clarinet--Friend Gilbert who teaches him English--Types of food his mother would cook--Story about his friend Max.
Moves to Los Angeles around 1953--Father works with Southern Pacific--Grandfather and father part of the union--Parents become very ill--Hires people to help take care of his parents - Tries to help father get his eyesight back--Becomes closer to father during the years he takes care of him--Grandparents--Discrimination father faced in the workplace--Father dies--Moving from South Central L.A. to Northridge with mother--Mother dies--Remembers when his mother had a stroke and the results of that--Attends Catholic St. Agnes High School--Hard time adapting in high school--Experiences in high school--Works as a paperboy--Goes to Los Angeles Trade Technical College and receives an AA degree in mechanical drawing--Gets his first job at Autonetics and quits after a year--Goes back to school at California State University, Los Angeles--Starts as an engineering major but changes to English--Fascinated with Professor Tim Harding from UCLA--The start of the jarocho group El Conjunto Uclaclan--Became interested in Latin American studies--Gets married and has a daughter--Starts to play the guitar--Identifies as Mexican while growing up--Differences with Sal Castro--The Chicano Movement--The development of the newspaper Inside Eastside--How the movement started in Los Angeles around the mid-sixties--The Brown Berets--The beginning of the walkouts--Ideas that Inside Eastside newspaper promoted--Exposing the inequality between high schools--Getting arrested and going through the trial--Attends Cal State L.A and becomes politically active--The start of United Mexican American Students (UMAS)--Sets a career goal of teaching at a university--Gets a job at California State University, Northridge (CSUN)--Disagreements with Rudy Acuña--Becomes an adviser for a fraternity--Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) members--Activist women involved in the movement.
The start of Inside Eastside newspaper--Makes the acquaintance of people important to his work at Lincoln High School and at La Raza newspaper--Father Luce--Attends La Raza meetings--Issues addressed in the first issue of Inside Eastside--Topics Ruiz was interested in writing about--Students begin to learn about the walkouts--Community members that were part of organizing the walkouts--The day of the walkout and the arrests--The East L.A. 13--The significance of Sal Castro and other activist community members--The problems with the academic curriculum at high schools--Separates from Inside Eastside newspaper--The start of the Chicano Student Movement newspaper--Working with other photographers--Involvement with Católicos por la Raza--Lawyers who fought for the activists--Anti-draft protests--The anti-war movement in Los Angeles--Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzalez and the poem Yo soy Joaquin--The Chicano Movement--Some of the first community groups--Non-Chicanos that were part of the movement--Interactions with African-American groups--A study of the image of Mexicans in the nineteen twenties--Native American groups--Ruiz’s ideas on Aztlán--The result of the war of independence and the civil war in Mexico--U.S. law that classified Mexicans as whites--Chicanos against the Vietnam War--Goes to Paris with Delia Alvarez.
Opposition to the Vietnam War--Police abuse--East L.A. as a center of anti-war activity--Heavy police presence at protests--Disagreements between Ruben Salazar and Sam Yorty--Ruben Salazar’s professional reports--How Ruiz approached the issue of police abuse--Gets arrested--Motivation for engaging in activism--Cesar Chavez's work with farm workers--The war in Vietnam--A trip to Cuba in 1969--Formative influences on views of war and education--Takes daughter to pickets and riots--Being part of La Raza Unida Party--Has a strong commitment to activism--Factions within the Chicano Movement--Strong commitment to disseminate the message of the movement-- Aims to both make and write about the news as a Chicano and writer--Personal relationships--Commitment to women's rights--The contribution of women in a range of organizations--Patriarchy in the movement--Methods of choosing leaders and representatives in the different organizations--A predominance of males as compared to females within the university during the initial years--Issues that were not clear within the farm workers movement--Ruiz's own family is diverse and consists of hard-working people--How Mexicans became known in America --The concept of self-determination among Mexican Americans--Problems with the ideology of Aztlán.
Takes over the board of education, along with community members--How the walkouts were organized by students--Relationship with Julian Nava--The progression from the protests to the sit-in lead to the arrests at the board of education--Individuals who were arrested and police procedure with regard to arrests at that time--Sal Castro's work with students--Experiences with the activist students--Photographs Ruiz took during important events--Labeled as a non-uniformed Beret--The start of the Brown Berets--Predominant beliefs concerning kids that are part of gangs--The so-called Pinto Movement among those who were incarcerated and the letters incarcerated individuals sent to La Raza newspapers--The Chicano Student Movement newspaper--The printing of the first editions of Inside Eastside newspaper--How the community organized the student walkouts--The protests at Roosevelt High School--The importance of Channel 34 as a media influence--Starts a parent group called Padres Unidos at Magnolia Elementary School--Parental demands for a good education for their kids--Outcomes of the Chicano Movement--Improvement in equity in education in Tucson, Arizona.