Social media tributes poured in Saturday for longtime activist Bobby Lee Verdugo, one of the leaders of the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts, who died Friday. The Associated Press reported he was 69.
Verdugo’s death was announced on Facebook by his daughter Monica Verdugo, who said her father died peacefully surrounded by his wife, Yoli Ríos, and his family. No cause of death was given.
In 1968, Verdugo and Ríos were both students at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights when they and other students at three other Eastside campuses –Wilson, Roosevelt and Garfield –helped organize a peaceful walkout of schools in an effort to bring educational reform.
Eventually, Verdugo earned a degree in social work from Cal State LA and worked to promote the well being of Latino families across the United States.
Known to friends for his nickname Chicano King, Verdugo was featured in the 1996 PBS documentary “Chicano! – The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.”
In the 2006 HBO film “Walkout,” Verdugo was portrayed by actor Efrén Ramírez.
Both Verdugo and Ríos were sought-out speakers and despite his declining health, Verdugo made several public appearances in 2018, for the 50th anniversary of the walkouts or blowouts, as the protest was also known.