In 1979 the new library at Sonoma State University was named after Mexican-American journalist Rubén Salazar. Clippings of
articles written by him during the 1950s and ‘60s for the local newspaper, The Press Democrat, were compiled and became the
root of this collection. Salazar’s wife, Sally, who attended the Library dedication with her children, donated copies of photographs
of Rubén. Materials about the SSU Library dedication are also included in the collection, as well as materials relating to
the addition of the 500,000th book to the library collection—Border Correspondent: selected writings, 1955-1970, edited by
Mario T. García. Since then, the collection has expanded to include articles about his death during a demonstration in Los
Angeles and media.
Ruben Salazar, born in 1928, was eight months old when his parents moved from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to El Paso, Texas. He
became a naturalized citizen, attending public schools and the University of Texas at El Paso, then known as Texas Western
College. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Salazar began his journalism career at the El Paso Herald-Post,
launching a career of many “firsts” for the mainstream press. As the first Latino reporter at the Post, he crossed into English-language
journalism. He became the first Latino foreign correspondent, and the first Latino columnist, to name a few.
In 1956-1957, Salazar worked in Petaluma for The Santa Rosa Press Democrat. He moved on to the San Francisco News
and in 1959 accepted the opportunity to work for The Los Angeles Times. During his tenure with the Times, Salazar was a foreign
correspondent in Viet Nam and the Dominican Republic and Times bureau chief in Mexico City. Salazar’s coverage of the 1965
U.S. Marine intervention in the Dominican Republic received high acclaim. As a domestic reporter and columnist, Salazar’s
topics were also “firsts”: the inferior quality of education, unemployment, poor and restricted housing conditions - essentially
the full range of problems facing Chicanos in Los Angeles. His reporting earned him a state Medal Award for best local news
coverage in California.
“Stranger in One’s Land”, Ruben Salazar’s account of the 1968 U.S. Commission on Civil Right’s hearing in San Antonio, Texas,
appeared as a commission publication in May 1970. This unique report was published for the purpose of stimulating public
concern for the problems confronting Mexican Americans.
By 1970, Salazar was elected Chairman of the Chicano Media Council, was news director of KMEX, a Spanish language TV station
in Los Angeles, and wrote a weekly columnist on Chicano affairs for the Los Angeles Times.
On August 29, 1970, Ruben Salazar was killed by a tear gas projectile fired by a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputy as
he was seated outside a restaurant. He had been taking a break from his assignment covering the Chicano Moratorium, an anti-Viet
Nam war demonstration in East Los Angeles. Salazar was 42.
Salazar was posthumously awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1971. In 1999, the California Chicano News Media
Association established the annual Ruben Salazar Journalism Awards. The awards recognize work published or broadcast in California
that exemplify journalistic excellence while contributing to a better understanding of Latinos.
In March 1979, Sonoma State University named its library in honor of Ruben Salazar. In 2002, soon after a new library building
was constructed, the Ruben Salazar Library building became Salazar Hall. Salazar Hall is now home to administrative and educational
functions, including the Journalism Laboratory.