Walters, Rita

First African American woman on LA City Council; LA School Board


Multimedia

5965.1_T01_online.mp3

Transcript

Metadata

Field Value
ID 162
Title An oral history with Rita Walters
Date 2017-04-11
WPA ID WPA_098
OH ID OH 5965.1
Citation Rita Walters interviewed by Natalie Fousekis, April 11, 2017, Los Angeles, California, Oral History #5965.1, transcript, Women Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.
Restricted false
Created At 2019-06-10 18:40:16 UTC
Location Los Angeles, CA
Language English
Subjects Family → Childhood Experiences
Family → Parents
Family → Family Histories and Traditions
Family → Divorce → Single Parent Home
Family → Parenting → Working Mom
Education
War → World War II
Discrimination, Racism, & Segregation
Discrimination, Racism, & Segregation → in Neighborhoods
Race Relations → Black-White Race Relations
Historic Periods → 1950s
Locations → Los Angeles, California
Family → Courtship
Family → Marriage
Family → Children
African American → People → Martin Luther King, Jr.
African American → Events → Civil Rights Movement (1960s)
Family → Parenting
Family → Parents → activist parents
Community Organizations → Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)
Historic Periods → 1970s
Counties → Los Angeles → Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)
Elections → Campaigning
Elections → Election loss
Women in the Workplace
Work → Occupations → Teaching
Women in the Workplace → Teacher/Professor
Education → English as a Second Language (ESL)
Activism → Education Activism
Education → Early Childhood Education
Education → School Board
Historic Periods → 1980s
Education → School desegregation

Abstract

An oral history with Rita Walters, former member of the Los Angeles School Board and the Los Angeles City Council. This interview was conducted for the Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project for California State University, Fullerton, and the Center for Oral and Public History. The purpose of this interview was to gather information regarding Walters’ political and community involvement. Specifically, this interview discusses Walter’s childhood and family life growing up in Kansas City, Kansas; recalls Kansas City during World War II and Jim Crowe; attending boarding school in Alabama and witnessing even deeper forms of segregation; migrating to Los Angeles, California, in 1955; meeting her husband and courtship; discrimination with home buying in certain L.A. neighborhoods; discusses settling briefly in Placentia, California, but soon returning to L.A.; raising children and getting involved in their education; involvement with Civil Rights issues in Los Angeles; discusses son David’s learning disability and how he faced discrimination by educators, which spurred an increase in Walters’ educational activism; how she fought for David to stay in conventional schools; the Crawford case and efforts to desegregate Los Angeles County schools; decision to run for Los Angeles School Board and election in 1979 (after two previous attempts); demographic of the school board and relationships therein; divorce and finishing her higher education; teaching adult education and its rewards; continuing to battle desegregation while on the school board, particularly the issue of busing; issues and allies while on the school board; conceptualizing the policy that mandated school athletes maintain a C average; victory over Mark Ridley Thomas in 1987; her role and challenges serving as school board president; and finally, reflects on greatest accomplishments and challenges while serving on the Los Angeles school board.

Images

Field Value
File Name 5965.1_P04.jpg
Content Type image/jpeg
Size 3912068
Description> Rita Walters, 2017.
Field Value
File Name 5965.1_P08.jpg
Content Type image/jpeg
Size 4369308
Description> Rita Walters with interviewer, Dr. Natalie Fousekis, 2017.

Multimedia

5965.2_T01_online.mp3

Transcript

Abstract

An oral history with Rita Walters, former member of the Los Angeles School Board and the Los Angeles City Council. This interview was conducted for the Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project for California State University, Fullerton, and the Center for Oral and Public History. The purpose of this interview was to gather information regarding Walters’ political and community involvement. Specifically, this interview discusses Walters’ decision to run for an open seat on Los Angeles City Council in 1991 (Ninth District); issues of focus for campaign; challenges of representing a district with two distinct areas: Downtown and South Los Angeles; recalls reaction to the Rodney King beating and verdict; making a plea for non-violence with other councilmembers at First AME church; watching aspects of the L.A. Riots from Los Angeles City Hall with Mayor Tom Bradley; controversial absence of the police during the riots; cleanup efforts and the contribution of surrounding communities; prohibiting liquor establishments as part of community recovery; increasing development and city services; the beginning of urban renewal in Downtown Los Angeles; her dedication in developing Augustus Hawkins Park; recalls the climate of L.A. City Council during the 1990’s and being the first black woman elected to it; relationship with Mayor Tom Bradley; relationships with other women on the council; reflects on leadership and the differences between men and women; motivations as a political leader; why so few women—particularly black women—are elected to public office; thoughts on feminism; challenges of earning her MBA; working on the Los Angeles Library Commission; and finally; reflects on proudest accomplishments.

Images

Field Value
File Name 5965.2_P01.JPG
Content Type image/jpeg
Size 942612
Description> Rita Walters during her oral history interview, 2017.
Field Value
File Name 5965.2_P06.JPG
Content Type image/jpeg
Size 616694
Description> Rita Walters with interviewer, Dr. Natalie Fousekis, 2017.