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Mexican American journalist honored with a stamp

April 22, 2008 |  9:16 am

Ruben_salazar_and_rfk_in_1968 It's Ruben Salazar, one of the first Mexican Americans to work at a major newspaper. He wrote for The Times in the 1960s, while he was also the general manager of KMEX-TV. (That's Salazar in the photo, walking with Bobby Kennedy.) But on Aug. 29, 1970, during a protest against the Vietnam war, Salazar was killed when a tear gas canister fired by a sheriff's deputy hit him in the head. He was 42.

It's tempting to go all soft and fuzzy at a time like this, with an honor like this, one of five journalists to get a stamp issued by the Postal Service. But The Times' Louis Sahagun doesn't take the easy way out.

Ruben_salazar_stamp_2 The truth, like everything else about Salazar, is complicated. Born in Juarez, Mexico, he was a political moderate who married a young white woman and lived in a middle-class home with a swimming pool in Orange County. Salazar was especially fond of dining on steak and corn with his wife, Sally, and their three children.

Yet, Charlie Ericksen, the founder of Hispanic Link, a Latino news service that publishes a weekly newsletter, recalled, "The husband that Sally knew was so different from the man we knew that it was almost as though he changed uniforms while driving down the freeway on the way home from work.

The details of this remarkable -- and complicated -- man in Louis' story are here. (Video too.)

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Ruben Salazar Archive / The University of Arizona