Photo by Flickr user waltarrrrr/Creative Commons.
Photo by Flickr user waltarrrrr/Creative Commons.

A ceremony honoring the memory of former Los Angeles Times and KMEX journalist Ruben Salazar will take place Friday, 44 years after his death during the 1970 Chicano Moratorium March in East Los Angeles.

The event will include the unveiling of a commemorative plaque honoring Salazar and his contributions to the community, at the park that bears his name, Salazar Park.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and the Department of Parks and Recreation will host the event that came about largely because of the contributions of former Chicano rights activist Sal Valdez

The former Los Angeles Unified School District special education teacher has lived in East Los Angeles for more than 30-years and was an activist in the 70s who participated in the moratorium march, a gathering of nearly 30,000 demonstrators, mostly of Mexican descent, to protest the Vietnam War.

Last year, Valdez visited the site of Salazar’s death at the building that was once the Silver Dollar bar to see if anything was there honoring Salazar.

He knew the bar was no longer there, but was hoping some sort of memorial was in place recognizing the man who was once the voice of the Mexican-American community.

“I wanted to see if there was anything there commemorating him. I was curious,” said Valdez.

What he found was an small plaque bearing Salazar’s name, Date-of-birth, and the date of his death.

“I was disappointed and angry. That’s when I decided I had to do something about it,” said Valdez.

After meeting with community members, church members and a few of his former activist friends, he petitioned County Supervisor Gloria Molina with a plan to erect a memorial plaque in his honor.

“She didn’t need a lot of convincing because she has been putting pressure on the sheriff’s department to release Salazar’s files for years,” said Valdez.

In a press release issued to announce the ceremony, Molina called Salazar “a gifted chronicler and advocate who dedicated his talents to sharing with the world what it meant to be Mexican-American.”
The plaque will be unveiled, complete with a two-paragraph memorial narrative written by Valdez.

Molina plans to attend, as well as one of Salazar’s daughters, and Valdez, who suffered a stroke in 2006, will speak at the event.

“I want to get people curious about who Ruben Salazar was,” said Valdez, noting that many, young Mexican-American youth do not know who Salazar was.

The stroke left Valdez without the use of his left side and wheelchair bound, but that will not deter him though.

His next project is to get a portion of freeway dedicated to Salazar, complete with signage which he hopes will reintroduce Salazar to the masses.

“The stroke shattered me, but this makes me feel good about myself,” said Valdez. “I did something good here; something that will outlive me. People need to know our history.”

Friday, August 29”“ 11a.m.
Salazar Park
3864 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90023
The event will include a ceremony and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque, followed by a documentary film about Salazar’s life, “Man in the Middle” by Phillip Rodriguez.

Gus Ugalde

Gus Ugalde is a print journalist and Boyle Heights native. He is a graduate of both Salesian High School and East Los Angeles College. With writing as his passion, he has had over 500 stories published...

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