Oral Histories

Interview of Ramón Holguín

Creator of the Chicano Studies Department at California State University, Northridge. Builder of bilingual curriculum for K-12 students and a part of the Service Employees International Union to assist the Latino constituency of the Union.
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:
Holguín, Ramón
Persons Present:
Holguín and Espino.
Place Conducted:
The Service Employees International Union office in 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.
Length:
15 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; Mother as single parent; Commentary on Las Tunas, Texas prison for undocumented workers; Adolescent interest in bull fighting; receiving tutoring from aunts in the primary years; Primary school experience in Mexico; Attending summer school in the United States; Reflections on the three bridges that linked El Paso to Mexico during the Depression; Bracero program; U.S. economic interest in Mexico; Leaving home at 15 to fight bulls; Joining the United States Army; U.S. and Mexico relationship; Meeting African Americans for the first time while enlisted; Military hierarchy; Race issues while enlisted; Military experience as part of U.S. occupation of Japan; Living conditions for the U.S. military in Japan; General Douglas MacArthur; Outbreak of the Korean War; Dispatched to Korea in late 1950.
Childhood in Mexico and the United States; Aunts as tutors; Bracero Program; Reflections on Cesar Chávez; Farmworker lifestyle; Enlisting in the United States Army to avoid the draft; Dispatched to Korea in 1950; Impressions of World War II; World War II culture at home; German prisoners in El Paso; U.S. patriotism; Starting a Spanish club while stationed in Tokyo; Landing in Japan in 1949; Army culture and the 442 Outfit; Integrating the army; Dating Japanese women; Social activities for occupying forces; Treatment of Japanese, and in particular Japanese women; Impressions of General MacArthur; Japanese culture and customs; Korea Inchon landing; Manchurian troops; Wounded in battle; Differences in Korean and Japanese culture; Dating a Korean woman; Stationed at the Port of Pusan; Discharged from the army; Racism upon returning home.
Identity issues after military service; Encountering a different Mexico upon return from military service; Meeting his first wife; Differences between El Paso and Juarez; Interdependency of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico; Marriage and ensuing marital conflict; Leaving wife in search of success at Mexican bull fighting; Leaving Mexico for Los Angeles, California; Returning to El Paso for the birth of son; Seeing biological father for the first time in seventeen years; Night school and the value of education; Returning to Los Angeles, California after mother’s death; Attending East Los Angeles College; Reunites with wife in Los Angeles; 1950s Hollywood and Los Angeles; Exploring Los Angeles with children; Moving to the “Valley”; Displacement from 4th Street in East Los Angeles; Service Employee International Union (SEIU) senior organization.
Contrast between United States and Mexico; Differences in educational philosophy between Mexico and United States; The introduction of sex education in the schools; Disrespect by public school officials; Choosing education as a profession; Experience with Head Start Program; Educational goals; East Los Angeles College; War on Poverty; Developing a political identity; Evolving from the Spanish American Club to the Mexican American Student Association (MASA); Pre-1960s use of Spanish over Mexican as ethnic identifier; Evolution of MASA to UMAS (United Mexican American Students) and UMAS to MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlán; GI Forum; Becoming a “group to deal with”; Brown Berets; East Los Angeles Walkouts; Creating the Hermano House; Attending San Fernando Valley State College, presently California State Northridge: Forming MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlán); Director of Educational Opportunity Program (EOP); Identity; The importance of the EOP and the Chicano Movement; Chicano Civil Rights pioneers; Role of women in the Movement.
The founding of Chicano Studies at San Fernando Valley State College; Experience with Raúl Ruíz; Goals of Chicano Studies; Establishing Supportive Services; Relationship between Chicano faculty and students; Chicano Studies pedagogy; Operation Chicano Teacher; Alumni Association; Chicanas in the Movement; Cafeteria boycott; Supporting the United Farm Worker (UFW) struggle; Police intimidation during UFW support actions; Anna NietoGomez challenges Chicano faculty at California State University, Northridge; Consultant with Pacific Oaks College; Experience with California State University, Northridge Preschool lab; Anna NietoGomez Empowering students; Concern for education an important personal goal and goal of Chicano Studies; Understanding the farmworker struggle; Meeting César Chávez; Role of women in the Chicano Movement at Cal State Northridge; Daughter’s marriage and struggle to attend college.
Chicano critique of the Bracero program; Opposition to guest worker programs; César Chávez and the Bracero program; United Farmworkers (UFW) momentum; 1970 UFW contract; Explaining the importance of unionized workers; Becoming Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge (CSUN); High demand for bilingual/bicultural education; Supportive Services at CSUN; Leaving CSUN with the hopes of becoming the director of Azteca Head Start program, but instead takes position at the University of Redlands; Pre-school pedagogy; Free Flow Learning Environment; Commentary on Jean Piaget; Applying for a job with the Kellogg Foundation; Resigning at Redlands; Developing bilingual curriculum for the Kellogg Foundation.
Involvement with Chicano Moratorium; Displeasure with taking a backseat in the Peace Rallies of the time; Marching in the rain; Organizing security for the march; Description of the Chicano Moratorium, August 29, 1970; January 1971 moratorium; Raza Unida fundraiser; Violence erupts at the Raza Unida fundraiser; Working for Head Start and the talents developed; Job opportunity at the University of Redlands; Resigning from Cal State Northridge; Developing curriculum for Head Start teacher training; Personal view of Head Start; Description of first Head Start programs; Early childhood development philosophy/pedagogy; Meeting second wife, Rosario Holguin; Rosario's politicization; Gaining admittance to California State University, Northridge (CSUN); Comparing African American and Chicano retention at CSUN; Successes of Chicano Studies at CSUN; Beginnings of a Chicano Studies pedagogy at CSUN; Issue with Anna NietoGomez position on the use of the term Chicana/Chicano; Value of emerging Chicana writers; Value of women in the Chicano Movement.
Work developing bilingual/bicultural curriculum at Cal Poly Pomona; Conflict with new direction of job at Cal Poly Pomona to broaden curriculum to other languages and ethnic groups; Work with the Urban League; Job responsibilities while with the Urban League; Work with the Department of Public Social Services; Mural work while with the Urban League; Joining the Service Employee and International Union (SEIU); Becoming a shop steward; Central concerns while a shop steward for the SEIU; Negotiating a contract and developing common language for workers and supervisors; Experience being released from the County to work one year for the union; Negotiating a contract as a union employee; Responsibilities while working as a union employee; Redefining the meaning of union organizing; Establishing protocol while working with the union; Critique of union's lack of organizing strategy; Staying on with the union for another year; Developing new organizing strategies; Strategies for collecting pink cards; Qualities of a good organizer; Work expectations and time commitment expectations; Union expectations of business agents; In search of a Latino voice on the board of the SEIU; Interracial conflict within the leadership of the SEIU; Formation of the CDU (Committee for a Democratic Union); Filing grievances with the SEIU Board; Winning change in the SEIU; Shaking up the Board and re-writing bylaws; Gilbert Cedillo's run for General Manager; Experience with Alejandro Stephens; Proxy vote victory for Gilbert Cedillo; The "color line" within the union; Establishing the SEIU 5k-10k run; 5k run evolves into fundraising event for county employee members in good standing; Anti-Alejandro Stephens sentiment; Distribution of funds earned from 5k run; Agency Shop concept; Developing a yearly employee evaluation; Criteria and protocol for a useful evaluation; Reflecting on the question to strike or not to strike.