EL PASO – Before taking a Chicano Studies class this semester, my knowledge of Ruben Salazar was pretty weak. I think most residents of El Paso are also uninformed about the success of the legendary Mexican-American journalist who was killed inside a bar in East Los Angeles during a Chicano anti-war demonstration in 1970.Should the city of El Paso be blamed for this lack of historical information about the prominent journalist, who was born in Ciudad Juárez and raised in El Paso?Why haven’t our city fathers taken time to recognize this ground-breaking native son who became a national and international correspondent for one of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers? Why aren’t any parks, public schools or other public spaces named after Salazar or other prominent El Pasoans? Here are a few others:
Marcelino Serna, immigrated to El Paso illegally in 1916 at age 20, became a decorated solider during the first World War. Another nationally recognized figure, Sandra Day O’Connor, was born in El Paso and graduated from Austin High School.
EL PASO — Writing in his personal journal shortly before newsman Ruben Salazar was killed by cops during a 1970 Chicano Anti War march in Los Angeles, the now legendary Mexican-American journalists asks: “Why do I always have to apologize to Americans for Mexicans and to Mexicans for Americans?”
His question sounds almost innocent against the turbulent anti-establishment tone of the times. Yet it still resonates for most U.S. journalists with hyphenated identities, myself included. As I watched the PBS documentary, “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle,” a few weeks ago at a packed auditorium on the University of Texas El Paso campus, it felt like I was looking into a mirror and witnessing my own ambiguity about my Cuban and U.S. identities. It seems to me that ambiguity about identity frames the existential experience of most immigrants to this country. Where do we belong?
EL PASO – While viewing the special screening here of the new documentary on the life and death of Mexican-American journalist Ruben Salazar, Man in the Middle, I experienced a mix of emotions. The documentary by Phillip Rodriguez address the duality of his life as a journalist, but, it felt to me that it lacked a wider explanation of Salazar’s private life. Salazar came from a Mexican background and grew up in El Paso, but the documentary portrayed him as identifying more with American culture. Salazar was an outstanding journalist who took risks and was not afraid to take assignments other journalists avoided. I felt that that my image of Salazar had changed after watching this documentary, as it explained that his death might not have been an accident, but rather an intentional attack.
EL PASO — Exiting the cinema, a teary-eyed and choked-up man in his sixties wearing a white guayabera shirt and a Panama fedorasaid the film he had just finished watching was tragic and reminded him of his days as a Chicano activist in California alongside César Chávez. The film was Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle directed by Phillip Rodriguez, which explores the life and tragic death of the legendary Mexican-American journalist. Salazar was born in the Mexican border town of Cuidad Juárez, but was raised here just across the river. He graduated from El Paso High School and Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso) before he started working at the El Paso Herald Post as a reporter and eventually at the Los Angeles Times. After leaving the Times, he went into broadcasting at the Spanish language station KMEX.