Julian Nava has three children all in the field of education like him. His six grandchildren and wife Patricia of 49 years are the center of his life. While a lover of classical music, especially Mozart, his sweetest sound is a grandchild calling out, “granpa.”
Nava is one of eight children born of parents that fled Zacatecas when the Mexican Revolution tore their region apart. The border was open then because Mexican labor was needed. The Great Depression of the 1930’s changed all that and the federal government set up the Relocation
Program to expel several hundred thousand Mexican workers.
The Navas and their eight children born in the U.S. were on the way to the train depot in Los Angeles when seven-year-old Julian became ill. Fortunately the family stopped at the nearby public hospital to check on him, for the next train stop would be in Phoenix 5 hours away. Within 30 minutes he was operated for a ruptured appendix. The Navas went back to the East Los Angeles barrio broken financially.
Like millions of others the Navas survived on federal relief food and faithfully studied in keeping with their father’s standards—they were poor in money but rich in family solidarity. Above all, they were loyal Americans, in spite of the relocation effort. After Pearl Harbor three Nava sons in turn volunteered into the armed forces. Julian earned his Navy wings just as the war ended. That’s where Julian learned to travel and became fully American while proud of his Mexican heritage.
After the war Julian became one of a new G.I. Generation that demanded being called Mexican-American, not just Mexican. Active in politics since Truman’s election in 1948, in time he was to run for public office himself, becoming the first Mexican American elected to the county-wide Los Angeles School district in 1967 for twelve years. By now he was a Professor of History at Cal. State University, Northridge, from where he retired after 43 years. Unsolicited, President Jimmy Carter named him ambassador to Mexico in 1979.
By the end of his professional career he had traveled to Venezuela, Patagonia, Siberia, China, Tibet, and his favorite Spain. Various international projects have included books to found the new national library in Estonia after Russia departed. After publishing numerous books on history for schools and college, time forced him to give up skiing and tennis. However, new interests sprang up. He has enjoyed producing professional TV documentaries on the Basques, Castro’s Cuba and Mexican Immigration. A novel on Tibet is well underway alongside the manuals for writing family history. Appreciation for his family history and the strength it has given him may help explain the work before us.
The Latino Guide To Creating Family Histories, A Handbook for Students, Parents & Teachers
Author: Ambassador Julian Nava
WPR Books: Latino Insights, 2012
Language: Bilingual (Spanish)
Book Size: 6″ x 9″
Taming The Chinesse Dragon, Young Love in Changing Tibet
Author: Julian Nava
WPR Books: 2015
Book Size: 6″ x 9″