By Brenda De La Cruz
Over the weekend, the California Chicano News Media Association held the Zoom event “#2020Salazar” that focused on the life and legacy of Chicano Activist and Journalist Ruben Salazar.
When one searches “civil rights movement,” they’ll get pages describing activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and Rosa Parks fought for social justice for Black Americans. However, they were not the only minority group fighting for rights during the ‘60s. During the 1960s, many Chicanos were protesting against police brutality, poor treatment in schools (sometimes being disciplined for simply speaking Spanish) and much more. On Aug. 29, 1970, a new protest took place with Chicanos on the front line against the Vietnam War after numbers in deaths amongst brown folks revealed Chicanos were dying at two times the rate of other ethnicities. This protest became known as the Chicano Moratorium, and what was meant to be a peaceful event, left many injured and a renowned journalist dead.
During the moratorium, Sheriff’s were called and began dispersing the crowds with batons and force. As the crowds ran off, attempting to escape any violence from law enforcement, Salazar was there to cover the event for the LA Times. Witnesses from the event recall seeing Salazar rest inside the Silver Dollar Bar once the protest became violent. Salazar was killed after a tear-gas projectile was shot into the bar by a deputy who was going after a crowd who went into the bar. The tear-gas projectile hit Salazar in the head and he is said to have died instantly.
The #2020Salazar event not only spoke about the late journalist, but also about the Chicano Moratorium Project the L.A. Times published in August for its 50th anniversary. Editors, writers and designers all discussed how they came up with ideas on the layouts and the direction they decided to go in in creating the piece. Many of the panelists described meeting many people who had never heard of the Chicano Moratorium while in school. In fact, many who wish to learn this side of history must do so by enrolling in Chicano Studies courses offered at community colleges or universities. Designers also went over how art was chosen, as well as how one can self-print their own posters from the many art pieces displayed in the project. To view the Chicano Moratorium project, go to https://www.latimes.com/projects/chicano-moratorium/.
Other panelists who were invited to the Zoom event were Cecilia Vega, Senior White House Correspondent for ABC News, and recently named “Latina Journalist of the Year” by CCNMA, Jennifer Medina with the New York Times, Both ladies spoke about their experiences as Latinas working the 2020 presidential campaign. Vega went over how it felt being mocked by President Trump during a press conference in 2018, as well as why she felt she needed to be out there as a voice for Latinos. Medina discussed how much she learned regarding how diverse Latino voters could be, including how many Latino groups are in favor of Trump despite how many are not.
Overall, the event focused on empowering the Latino community and reminding folks of how far we have come, but also how much more work is needed. The event culminated with the Ruben Salazar Awards, which awards journalists who contribute to a better understanding of Latinos through their work. Categories include print, digital and TV/Radio.