The United States Postal Service together with the University of Arizona’s Media Democracy and Policy Institute will unveil a stamp commemorating the work of slain Hispanic journalist Rubén Salazar on the UA campus on Thursday. Salazar is one of five individuals honored on a sheet of 20 stamps issued this week that honor American journalists.
The unveiling ceremony 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 invited speakers including U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva; Salazar’s daughter, Lisa Salazar-Johnson; Los Angeles Journalist and Salazar contemporary Bob Navarro; and Tucson Postmaster Carl Grigel. Tucson bilingual radio pioneer Raul Aguirre will serve as the master of ceremonies.
The other journalists featured on the stamps are Martha Gellhorn, John Hersey, George Polk and Eric Sevareid.
“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.
Salazar was a Mexican-American reporter for the Los Angeles Times who was killed by police on Aug. 29, 1970, while covering the National Chicano Moratorium March to protest the disproportionate number of Hispanics killed in the Vietnam War. The march ended in a rally that was broken up with the use of tear gas. Salazar had taken cover within The Silver Dollar Bar. The coroner’s inquest showed that Salazar died as a result of wounds from a tear gas projectile that was shot at his head from short range.
Salazar is recognized as a boundary-breaking pioneer. Mario T. Garcia, a Salazar biographer, lists him as the first Latino to work for the El Paso Herald Post, the first Latino journalist to cross into mainstream English-language journalism, the first Latino journalist to work as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and the first Latino journalist to become a foreign correspondent, having reported from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Vietnam. His work was most influential when he became the first Latino journalist to have a column in a major English-language newspaper, the Los Angeles Times.
Briseño’s efforts to recognize Salazar’s work have led to the creation of the UA’s MDPI Salazar Archive. The Salazar family has donated his papers, articles, photos, typewriter and other personal items, which will be catalogued at the Media, Democracy and Policy Initiative.
“I have had the unique and enviable task of meeting Rubén Salazar from a perspective few others have before. Through the archive we are assembling, I have lived with his story, his words, his thoughts and talked with those who knew him, whom he relied on and whom he inspired,” said Briseño.
Briseño’s work through MDPI aims to address issues that advance the image and identify of Latinos in American politics and media to add context to the Latino voice and their contributions to America.
“My goal in asking the U.S. Postal Service to name a stamp after Rubén Salazar was to bring to light the many contributions Latinos have made to the history of this nation,” she added.
Commemorative stamps will be available, along with a special postmark celebrating Thursday’s event, at the USPS Student Union Post Office near the Gallagher Theater. In addition, postcards, envelopes and buttons will be offered for sale before, during and after a symposium honoring Salazar at 2 p.m. The symposium to be held in Gallagher Theater, will exam Salazar's life and death and the impact of Latinos in the media.
An exhibit for the Salazar Archives and stamp will be housed at the Postal History Foundation on 920 N. First Ave. and the Foundation will host a post-ceremony reception at 5 p.m. The day’s events end with a screening of “Below the Fold,” a documentary that reveals how in 1984, a group of young Los Angeles Times reporters battled institutional prejudice and changed the newspaper industry when they won the Pulitzer Prize. The film will be shown at 8 p.m. at The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St. The film is part of the Arizona International Film Festival.
Rebecca Ruiz McGill
UA Office of University Communications