I discussed Ruben Salazar a few years ago while contributing to blogging.la. I was inspired by César/EMC’s post in which he summarized Salazar’s life.
The post and César’s blog no longer exist, but if I remember correctly César — an awesome writer himself — felt cheated as he watched a documentary on Salazar. César felt cheated, as I’m sure many of us have, when we learn of people and events like Salazar and the Chicano Moratorium in 1970. We wonder, why are we just learning about this now, more than 12 years in to our education?
Ruben Salazar, circa 1970
You learn Salazar was born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, (where your grandfather was born), and he and his family grew up in El Paso where he also got his B.A. in Journalism from UTEP and became one of the very first Mexican-American investigative reporters at the El Paso Herald Post, where he worked hard writing about the police mistreatment of Mexicanos and the racist brutality that many Chicanos faced in Texas prisons. (César)
Ruben Salazar interviews civilians in Vietnam, 1965
You learn the man later moved to Santa Rosa, California where he worked for the San Francisco News and later became a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where he persuaded his editors to allow him to write a column that gave a voice to eastside Chicanos and the same campesinos that Cesar Chavez fought hard to support. He wrote an award-winning series of articles on the L.A. Latino community that gained him the respect and love of the Mexican-American people as well as Chavez himself. (César)
Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War, August 30, 1970
You learn that at the time that Salazar was writing these columns and helping his community, he was the first Mexican-American writer to hold a staff position at a major American publication. What Salazar did was utilize his love for writing and his career for a social cause. He worked for his gente.
Then you watch in disbelief as you’re told by the narrator that on August 29, 1970, during a Mexican-American moratorium against the use of Mexican-Americans in Vietnam, Ruben Salazar was unjustly murdered by a Los Angeles County Deputy Tom Wilson. (César)
LA County Sheriff points gun in to the Silver Dollar Café, August 29, 1970
Silver Dollar Cafe, where Ruben Salazar was shot and killed
Wilson shot a 10-inch projectile at Salazar’s head as he sat at the Silver Dollar café having lunch. Wilson was never charged although a coroner’s panel ruled Salazar’s death a homicide. (César)
Mourners pay respects to Ruben Salazar, August 2, 1970
This Chicana, “a Mexican-American with a non-Anglo image of [her]self,” is still mourning and paying her respects.
All words in blockquotes (shaded blue) by César “EMC” Diaz
Photos from the UCLA Library Digital Photo Archive, used under Creative Commons License. Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library. Copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library
Post inspired by: Ed who suggested the bloggers present at yesterday’s meetup post about Ruben Salazar and the postage stamp issued today in his honor.
More on Salazar: