USC Latino Forum hosted a celebration Tuesday noting the donation of the personal and professional papers of Rubén Salazar, a prominent Mexican-American journalist.
The documents, which were donated by Salazar’s children, will be permanently housed in Doheny Memorial Library for research purposes.
The collection includes Salazar’s professional work at the Los Angeles Times, where he covered the war in Vietnam, the massacre of student protesters in Mexico before the 1968 Olympics and the late 1960s Chicano Movement.
Félix Gutiérrez, a professor of journalism, who facilitated the donation from Salazar’s children, said research on Salazar will give undergraduate and graduate students hands-on experience with the late journalist’s letters, documents, notes and article drafts.
Gutiérrez said Salazar is the most honored Latino journalist in American history.
“He helped others understand a complex commnunity that was a relatively small part of Los Angeles when he was writing in the 1960s,” Gutiérrez said.
Salazar was an integral figure in the Latino movement in Los Angeles because he delivered the Chicano message through his articles, Gutiérrez said.
“[Salazar] was not an advocate, but he took our message and understanding us and who were to a wider audience at a time when there were very few Latinos working in the media,” Gutiérrez said.
Students will be also able to intern for filmmaker Philip Rodriguez, who is producing a documentary for public television on the life and mysterious death of Salazar.
Salazar was killed at the Silver Dollar Café in 1970 when a sheriff deputy, who believed a gunman was in the building, fired a tear gas canister. Salazar was hit in the head and died afterward.
Students said they appreciate the research and production opportunities provided by the collection of Salazar’s work.
“I have read about Salazar’s work in the past, and I am excited at the opportunity given to USC students to research on one of the best journalists [the] 20th century witnessed,” said Stephanie Choi, a junior majoring in political science.
Shravya Chavva, a sophomore majoring in cinematic arts and film and television production, said she would be interested in having the opportunity to research and intern for the film on Salazar’s professional and personal life, as the opportunity normally is offered only to doctorate students.
The collection also marks a significant step in the expansion of the university’s research on the Latino community in Los Angeles, said Sonia Rodriguez, an advisor for USC Latino Forum and senior administrator for the department of American studies and ethnicity.
“This event signifies how USC is trusted to hold these important historic documents,” Rodriguez said. “In the past, Latino scholarly archives were mostly given to UCLA libraries. The fact that Salazar’s children chose USC to gift his professional archives for research is a huge step up not only for the USC Latino community, but the overall USC global research initiative.”
Gutiérrez said in addition to Salazar’s professional writings, the collection offers a glimpse into his personal life.
“It’s a priceless archive,” Gutiérrez said. “He’s very well-known in terms of his public work — outside of Hollywood actors he was one of the best known Latinos in Los Angeles in the 1960s. His family had 10 boxes of his stuff. They talk about his private side including school transcripts, awards he won and drafts of articles and interview notes.”
The collection will be housed in the Special Collections Room on the second floor of Doheny indefinitely.