The University of Arizona’s Media Democracy and Policy Institute will join with the United States Postal Service on Thursday to unveil a stamp commemorating the work of Rubén Salazar, a Latino journalist killed while on assignment in 1970 at the age of 42.
Salazar is one of five American journalists being honored on a sheet of 20 stamps that will be issued this week. The other journalists are Martha Gellhorn, John Hersey, George Polk and Eric Sevareid. The Postal Service said they were selected because they risked their lives reporting some of the most important events of the 20th century.
A first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony will take place Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, as part of the club’s 100th Anniversary.
“These distinguished journalists risked their lives to record the events that shaped the modern world,” said Postmaster General John E. Potter, at the October 2007 preview of the stamp images. “Their body of work stands as a towering monument to the importance of a free press. It is our hope that Americans will use these stamps to honor these outstanding individuals who served the cause of journalism so well.”
Salazar was a Mexican-American who was news director of KMEX-TV, a Spanish language station, and a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times, where he had worked since 1959. He was killed on Aug. 29, 1970, while covering the National Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War, in which a disproportionate number of Hispanics were killed. The march ended in a disturbance that was broken up with the use of tear gas by sheriff’s deputies. Salazar took cover in the Silver Dollar Bar, and a coroner’s inquest showed that he died of wounds from a tear-gas projectile shot at his head at close range.
The unveiling ceremony on the UA campus kicks off a day of events commemorating Salazar’s work, including a video documenting Salazar’s contributions; a welcome by UA Vice Provost Juan Garcia; and remarks by Salazar’s daughter, Lisa Salazar-Johnson; U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva; Bob Navarro, a Los Angeles journalist, and Postmaster Carl Grigel of Tucson, the university announced.
“These stamps recognize the contributions of American journalists to the betterment of American society,” Grigel said. “These are five individuals who exposed and explored the people, processes, challenges and accomplishments of a country, its people and America’s role in the world.”
Salazar-Johnson and Olga Briseño, director of the UA’s Media, Democracy and Policy Initiative, will unveil the stamp. Briseño was involved in the national effort to advocate for the production and distribution of a U.S. Postal Service stamp to honor Salazar.
Briseño collected 1,300 signatures in support of the stamp, gathered resolutions from national Latino organizations and submitted them to the Postal Service’s Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee for consideration.
Mario T. Garcia, a Salazar biographer, lists him as the first Latino to work for the El Paso Herald Post, as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and as a foreign correspondent. He reported from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Vietnam. He was also credited as the first Latino columnist for a major English-language newspaper, the Los Angeles Times.
As a result of Briseño’s efforts to recognize Salazar, the UA’s Media, Democracy and Policy Initiative now houses a Salazar Archive with papers, articles, photos and other items donated by the Salazar family.
The American Journalists Stamp Issuance Ceremony will be held at 12 p.m. Thursday, at the Gallagher Theater, Student Union Memorial Center, on the UA campus.
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