Ruben Salazar: instant martyr

Ruben Salazar isn’t exactly a household name, even though he did most of his work in a time of turmoil, tumult and tempest.

Who was this man? He was a journalist who sought to heighten awareness of being Latino in the United States of America. He was born in Texas, moved to California later and then set out getting under the skin of the establishment.

He died a violent death in late August 1970 in a police raid on a California night spot. Police launched a tear gas canister into the place and Salazar died in the melee that followed.

Police said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Salazar’s family and friends believe he was a target.

On Tuesday night, Panhandle PBS is airing a special broadcast that tells the story of this activist who many believe died a martyr to his cause. The program, titled “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle,” will be broadcast at 8 p.m.

He was a journalist who specialized in civil rights issues. He sought to raise awareness of Latinos in California. He was a friend and a contemporary of Cesar Chavez, the famed farmworkers union organizer. He befriended Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Salazar grew up in a home in which his parents taught him to assimilate into American culture. His parents were immigrants from Mexico, who came to love the United States. They wanted their children to love their country.

But young Ruben became troubled by the discrimination he witnessed. Latinos were being denied opportunities. They endured difficulties common to ethnic minorities. Salazar sought to bring attention to that treatment. He didn’t stand still for it. He reported aggressively on these issues as a journalist.

The program airing Tuesday night is a premier event. “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle” tells a gripping story of a man caught up in a tumultuous time in our nation’s history. For more information on the man and the program that airs on Panhandle PBS, take a look at the link below.


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