SPRING 2015 / UNIVERSITY EVENTS
Exhibit features the life and career of pioneering journalist Rubén Salazar
BY ROBERT LOPEZ
(Photos courtesy Timmy Truong)
On a smoggy August day more than 40 years ago, pioneering journalist Rubén Salazar spent his final hours at a massive anti-Vietnam War rally that exploded into violence in East Los Angeles.
The 42-year-old Salazar was the news director at Spanish-language KMEX-TV and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He was the primary chronicler of the radical Chicano movement, and his hard-hitting reporting on alleged police abuse in East L.A. had angered some law enforcement authorities.
Salazar and his TV crew furiously covered the action that afternoon on Aug. 29, 1970, as Chicano activists clashed with police and angry protesters smashed windows and set fire to businesses along Whittier Boulevard. The mayhem had broken out after sheriff’s deputies fired tear gas to clear a park where tens of thousands of people had gathered for the National Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War.
As the violence raged, Salazar and reporter Guillermo Restrepo ducked into the Silver Dollar Cafe to take a quick break. Deputies, who said they were responding to reports of a gunman inside, swooped down on the small, one-story building. One of them fired a tear gas missile inside, striking Salazar in the head and killing him instantly.
The slaying silenced a man whose insightful reporting had explained the triumphs, frustrations and shortcomings of L.A’s growing Mexican American community.
Artist Carlos Callejo, who studied art at Cal State L.A., helped plan the visual layout of the Salazar exhibit.
But the newsman’s legacy lives on at Cal State L.A., where Salazar Hall bears his name. The University also paid tribute to the trailblazing reporter with a months-long multimedia exhibit, “Rubén Salazar: A Man of His Words, a Man of His Time.”
The exhibit, which ran from October to late March in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, kicked off with an opening reception on Oct. 23 attended by more than 100 people. The display was curated by faculty, staff and community volunteers and was co-hosted by the Chicano/ Latino University Association and the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A.
Among the memorabilia were articles that Salazar authored, from his days as a cub reporter in his hometown of El Paso to his time as a foreign correspondent in Vietnam and Mexico for the Times.
Political buttons, posters, photos and film footage vividly captured the social and political turbulence that swept across the neighborhoods near Cal State L.A., where Salazar accomplished some of his finest reporting. Exhibit photos also showed a softer side of Salazar, enjoying the company of his two daughters at his Orange County home and standing arm in arm with his wife on their wedding day.
The exhibit was important because it told the story of a man who gave a voice to a community that had largely been ignored by the media, said Romelia Salinas, a Cal State L.A. reference librarian who helped create the exhibit.
“We wanted people to learn not just about who Rubén Salazar was, but also see what he was able to accomplish with his writing,” Salinas says. “The written word is very powerful.”
Billie Jean King & Friends gala
Honorees Tommie Smith, far left, and John Carlos, far right, with Olympic gold-medalist Wyomia Tyus, second from left, and Billie Jean King at the Billie Jean King & Friends Event. (Photo courtesy Department of Athletics)
Celebrities and star athletes came out to Pasadena on Oct. 11 for the 17th annual Billie Jean King & Friends Event. The program, which took place at the Langham Huntington Hotel, celebrated Olympic track and field medalists and civil rights advocates Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
Smith and Carlos took gold and bronze in the 200 meter race during the 1968 Summer Olympics. As the national anthem played, the men raised their fists and bowed their heads to call attention to the treatment of African Americans in the U.S. and to show solidarity with people fighting internationally for human rights.
At the King event the two were jointly awarded the Joe Shapiro Award for the lasting impact of their work and service to the community.
Mary Carrillo and Pam Shriver, both of whom are sportscasters and former professional tennis players, were the masters of ceremonies for the evening. The event is a major fundraiser for Cal State L.A.’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. King, an alumna, has helped generate more than $3 million for student-athlete scholarships through this annual event.
Alumni couples go to Date Night
at Cal State L.A.
Cal State L.A. is a great place to earn a degree, but for many it’s also a place to find love. On Feb. 12, Cal State L.A. celebrated the hundreds of alumni who met their spouses on campus. At the first Date Night, dozens of alumni came back to campus to recollect love stories, share memories and relive the magic. The happy twosomes were toasted by Cal State L.A.’s first couple, President William A. Covino and Dr. Debbie Covino.