Julian Nava's career has combined civic involvement and teaching in the United States and in Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico,
and Spain. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico—he was the first Mexican American appointed to this position—and on
the governing board of the Los Angeles Unified School District. He helped organize the creation of UC MEXUS (University of
California Institute for Mexico and the United States), a bi-national research institute that facilitates and encourages scholarly
exchange. This collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, personal papers documenting his family history, organizational
records and academic materials reflecting his work as an educator and a civic leader, and videos, clippings, and photographs
in each of these areas.
Researchers who would like to indicate errors of fact or omissions in this finding aid can contact the research center at
Julian Nava was born in East Los Angeles in 1927 to a Mexican immigrant family of eight children. A graduate of Roosevelt
High School, Nava, like many Latinos of his generation, had not been encouraged by school counselors to plan for college.
He volunteered for service during WWII in the U.S. Naval Air Corps, and after completing his tour and returning home, he decided
to take advantage of the GI Bill and return to school. He received a BA in 1951 from Pomona College and an MA and, in 1955,
a PhD in Latin American history from Harvard University.
Nava is a professor emeritus of history at California State University, Northridge, where he taught from 1957 to 2000. In
1967 he won a seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and was subsequently elected to serve four
more terms. In this office he attempted to address student concerns voiced during the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts
by using his position to champion for bilingual education, culturally inclusive curriculum, and the need to hire more African
American and Mexican American administrators. From 1967 to1968 he served on President Lyndon Johnson's Inter-Agency Cabinet
Committee on Mexican American Affairs.
He was the first Mexican American to be appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, serving from 1980 to 1981 under Presidents
Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. In this capacity Nava helped organize the creation of UC MEXUS (University of California Institute
for Mexico and the United States), a bi-national research institute that facilitates and encourages scholarly exchange. He
continued to promote dialog by consulting in the area of cross cultural program development within school districts and universities
in the United States and abroad.
He has served as a board member for Plaza de la Raza, the Hispanic Urban Center, the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, and
the board of trustees of Pomona College. He has also served on the advisory committee for the Mexican American Legal Defense
and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
Nava is the author and editor of several articles and books on the Chicano and Latino experience. As an extension of his academic
interests, he has produced several videos that promote international understanding. These include Song of the Basque (1995)
and Voices of Cuba (1996), as well as television specials on Estonia, China, and Serbia.
Copyright has not been assigned to the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. All requests for permission to publish must be
submitted in writing to the Chicano Studies Research Center Library. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission
from the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.