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Dr. Julian Nava - Professor, First Mexican American Ambassador to Mexico - East Los Angeles College

Dr. Julian Nava, 84, is an Emeritus Professor of History at California State University, Northridge and is one of the department's founding members, having taught there from 1957 to 2000.

After growing up in Los Angeles, Nava served as combat air crewman in the United State Navy Air Corps before attending and graduating from East Los Angeles Community College.

After earning his undergraduate degree in history at Pomona College, Nava received his doctorate in Latin American history from Harvard University in 1955. He taught in Venezuela, Spain and Puerto Rico. He founded Centro de Estudios Universitarios in Bogota, Colombia.

In 1967, Nava ran run for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and won, becoming the first Hispanic to serve on the county-wide board (composed of 13 cities including Los Angeles). He served on the board until 1979.

In 1980, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by President Jimmy Carter. He was the first Mexican-American to hold the position.

Nava and labor leader Cesar Chavez met and became friends while working together at the Community Service Organization in Los Angeles immediately following World War II. In 1993, Nava was one of the pallbearers selected for Chavez' funeral.

Nava has produced a series of one-hour documentary films including the history of the Basque people in "Song of the Basque." (1995). He then produced and co-directed "Voices of Cuba" (1996) with Todd Mattox. More recently, Nava produced a documentary on cross-border migration to and from the United States in two languages called "Round Trip Zacatecanos" (2001).

Today he is retired and lives San Diego County with his wife, Patricia. Nava still lectures widely about multicultural education, and serves on the board of directors of Encuentros, which promotes education among young Hispanic males.

 

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