Julian Nava

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Julian Nava
United States Ambassador to Mexico
In office
May 7, 1980 – April 3, 1981
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Patrick J. Lucey
Succeeded by John Gavin
Personal details
Born (1927-06-19) June 19, 1927 (age 88)
Los Angeles, California
Alma mater Pomona College;
Harvard University
Occupation Diplomat, Professor, Politician

Julian Nava (born June 19, 1927) is an American educator and diplomat.


Nava was born to Mexican immigrants in 1927, and is one of 8 children in Los Angeles, California. Nava grew up in the barrio of East L.A. In 1945, he volunteered for the Air Corps of the United States Navy. Upon his return to Los Angeles, Nava studied at East Los Angeles Community College before transferring to Pomona College, one of the prestigious Claremont Colleges. After earning his undergraduate degree in history, in 1951, Nava received his doctorate in Latin American history from Harvard University in 1955. He taught in Venezuela, Spain, and Puerto Rico. After teaching in Spain, he founded Centro de Estudios Universitarios in Bogota, Colombia. From 1957-2000, Nava was professor of history at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

In 1967, the Congress of Mexican American Unity (ninety two community groups) nominated him to run for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Nava became the first Hispanic to serve on the county-wide board (composed of thirteen cities including Los Angeles).

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

In 1992, he ran for mayor of Los Angeles.[1] In 1993, Nava was one of the pallbearers selected for the funeral of the labor leader Cesar Chavez. Nava worked with Chavez since his time with the Community Service Organization in Los Angeles immediately after the Second World War.

In the 2006 HBO film Walkout, the role of Dr. Julian Nava was played by director Edward James Olmos. Nava has produced a series of one-hour documentary films. He explores the history of the Basque people in “Song of the Basque,” funded by the Basque government. He then produced and co-directed “Voices of Cuba” with Todd Mattox. More recently, Nava produced a documentary on cross-border migration to and from the United States in two languages, “Zacatecanos de ida y vuelta” (Roundtrip Zacatecanos).

Today he is retired and lives San Diego County with his wife, Patricia. He holds the title of professor emeritus of history at CSUN. Nava lectures widely about multicultural education, and serves on the board of directors of Encuentros, which promotes education among young Hispanic males. In 2011, a LAUSD school was named after him, it's known as the Dr. Julian Nava Learning Academy .[2] In 2014 another LAUSD school was named after him it is known as the Nava College Preparatory Academy.


  • Mexican Americans: a brief look at their history, 1970. New York City: Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.
  • The Mexican American in American history, 1973. New York City: American Book Co. ISBN 0-278-47381-4
  • Mexican American profiles: bilingual biographies for today, 1974 (with Michelle Hall). Walnut Creek, California: Aardvark Media.
  • California: five centuries of cultural contrasts, 1976 (with Bob Barger). Beverly Hills: Glencoe Press.
  • Julian Nava: My Mexican-American Journey, 2002. Houston: Arte Público Press. ISBN 1-55885-364-2
  • "The Latino Guide to Creating Family Histories: A Handbook for Students, Parents & Teachers" 2012 (WPR Books) ISBN 978-1-889379-49-4


Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Patrick J. Lucey
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
1980 – 1981
Succeeded by
John Gavin