Oral Histories

Interview of Grace Montañez Davis (2013)

Early member of the Community Service Organization and implementer of the first Spanish Language Citizenship classes in West Los Angeles. Administrative assistant to Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. in 1964, Manpower Development Specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor from 1966 to 1973, and first Mexican-American woman Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles serving from 1975 to 1990.
The Bradley Years: Los Angeles City Government, 1973-1993
Politics and Government
Parker, Caitlin
Davis, Grace Montañez
Persons Present:
Davis and Parker.
Place Conducted:
Davis’s home 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 Caitlin Parker, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; B.A., History, Amherst College. M.A., U.S. History, UCLA. Parker’s dissertation focuses on urban policy in Los Angeles during Mayor Tom Bradley’s administration. Parker prepared for the interviews by conducting research in the Bradley Administrative Collection at UCLA Special Collections and the Grace Davis Collection at UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center; reading LA Times articles, and reviewing documents provided by Grace Davis.
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. Davis was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of 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.
4 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series includes interviews with key individuals who served in Los Angeles city government during the administration of Mayor Tom Bradley. Bradley served as mayor of Los Angeles from 1973 to 1993. The interviews focus on each individual’s political development, activism, and role in the Bradley administration. Major urban policy issues addressed in the interviews include social services, economic development, urban redevelopment, housing, transit, policing, education, and city finances. This project was generously supported by Arcadia funds.
Working for Congressman Edward Roybal and Congressman George Brown – Attending local meetings on the Economic Opportunity Act – Working for the Neighborhood Youth Program – Developing and implementing poverty programs for the Department of Labor – Reception as a Latina in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and resistance to poverty programs – Contract with organizations, federal compliance – Ted Watkins and the Watts Labor Community Action Center – Implementation of the New Careers Program in hospitals and corporations – Getting involved with the California Democratic Club movement – Precinct walking for the Bradley campaign – Menudo breakfasts for Bradley -- Bradley’s role in the community as a police officer – Bradley’s monthly meetings in the community and connection with constituents – Monthly City Hall open house – FBI informant who infiltrated community organizations -- Serving on Bradley’s committee to suggest appointees to commission positions – Bradley’s outreach - Gang shooting story – Fear of retaliation from community group turned down for funding – Development of small business - Al Juarez.
Youth and aging programs – Coordinating Peace Corps volunteers in Bradley’s office to help with community organizations – Grants Department – Bradley offers Davis position of Deputy Mayor – Becoming the highest ranking Latina – Demonstrating at the L.A. School Board in support of school desegregation – Appointment as Deputy Mayor – Working with fellow Deputy Mayor Maury Weiner – Working with Deputy Mayor Mike Gage – Bradley’s style as mayor – Creation of the Community Development Department – Funding small businesses and community organizations – Problems of constructing public housing – Reductions in federal funding – Serving on national commissions on Social Security and immigration.
Bradley opens up city buildings to house the homeless at night – Creating a homeless camp in downtown railyard – Meeting with the homeless council – Setting up health and employment services – Working with homelessness activist Ted Hayes– Establishing centers for homeless women and children – Bradley’s races for governor – MAPA Convention in Fresno – Greatest achievements with Bradley administration – Changing personnel rules to consider a broader number of candidates – Bradley’s affirmative action program – Coordinating Bradley’s meeting with the department heads – Sitting in on budgetary meetings – National attention to Davis’s position as highest-ranking Latina in Bradley administration.