A proud sister mourns Latino pioneer in U.S. journalism
Arizona Daily Star

 Ernesto Portillo Jr., Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/144313


In her comfortable East Side town home, Luz Salazar McFarland sat in a room filled with pictures and memorabilia of her late husband and her brother.

Her husband's reminders are his letters of commendation and appreciation for his military service. The reminders are happy ones for McFarland, who came to Tucson from Texas in 1983 with her husband, Lt. Col. John McFarland. He has since died.
Her brother's reminders are more painful. There are pictures of her brother when he was a boy, when he was a young man working abroad and when he was in the company of the influential and famous.
They are mementos she hangs on to, like the dress she wore Tuesday. It is the same dress McFarland wore when she last saw her brother, Ruben Salazar, more than a year before he died on Aug. 29, 1970.
Thirty-six years ago, Salazar, a 42-year-old Los Angeles journalist noted for his critical and aggressive reporting, was covering Vietnam War protests in that city.
The demonstration was known as the Chicano Moratorium, part of a long series of protests against the war and police abuses.
He was in the Silver Dollar Cafe near a park when a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy fired a projectile into the establishment. It killed Salazar, news director for the Spanish-language television station, KMEX, and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
Salazar's death sparked outrage and made him into a martyr for the burgeoning Chicano civil-rights movement.
McFarland is 80, two years older than Salazar, whom she remembered as a serious but fun-loving boy while growing up in El Paso.
"He loved to sit and read for hours. I was the one who liked to go outside and play and swing from the tree," said McFarland.
She remembered a brother who enjoyed music and was tender. He loved to draw, something their father liked to do.
On the wall are paintings by their father, Salvador Salazar, who was noted for his jewelry making and who died in Tucson 10 years ago.
McFarland's brother probably would have been an artist had it not been for a column he wrote as a student at Texas Western College, now the University of Texas at El Paso.
Salazar criticized the college's edict that its all-white football team could not play another team because it had black players. This was more than 10 years before the college made history when it put five black basketball players on the court for the national collegiate championship against an all-white Kentucky team.
Salazar turned to reporting. He was the first Latino reporter with the El Paso Herald-Post and the Los Angeles Times. At the Times, he reported from Vietnam, Latin America and was the Times' Mexico City bureau chief. He became the Times' first Latino columnist.
His writing about the mistreatment of Latinos in Los Angeles elevated Salazar's profile. He was also critical of Latino militants during the tumultuous late '60s.
He wrote with passion and conviction. Many people at the time believed police targeted Salazar because of his reporting on police abuses.
McFarland was living in San Antonio when she received a telephone call about her brother's shooting. She called her parents in El Paso.
They drove from Texas to Los Angeles, where many mourned his death. When they saw his body reposed in his casket, Salazar's mother wrapped her arms around him, and the family wept.
Tuesday, McFarland wept again.
● Contact Ernesto Portillo Jr. at 573-4242 or at eportillo@azstarnet.com. He appears on "Arizona Illustrated," KUAT-TV Channel 6, at 6:30 p.m. and midnight Fridays.