Two important leaders in the Chicano community passed away this past weekend: George Ramos, a Pulitzer-prize winning writer and editor, including for the Los Angeles Times, and renowned artist and movement pioneer Gilbert “Magu” Lujan. George was a guide to many young Chicano journalists, including yours truly. In 1980—I can’t believe it’s now more than 30 years later—I began my journalism career working for the Eastside Sun weekly newspapers in Boyle Heights/East L.A., then as a participant of the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the University of California, Berkeley. That fall I became a daily newspaper reporter at the San Bernardino Sun, which I did for two years. In those early years, I also did pieces for California Public Radio and KPFK-FM as well as freelance articles for the LA Weekly, The Nation, The Catholic Reporter, and others. George was helping mentor many of us through the mostly white newsrooms of the country. Others who assisted me at the time included Felix Guttierrez, Frank Del Olmo, Frank Sotomayor, Luis R. Torres, and Steve Montiel. I owe them all a debt of gratitude. George passed on this past Saturday. He was 63. Gilbert “Magu” Lujan was a pioneer and guiding light for Chicano artists since the 1960s. His pieces have graced museums, subway stations, and community corners. He was part of “Los Four” Chicano artist collective. I recall visiting his Pomona studios, “Magulandia,” around the time I returned to the L.A. area from Chicago in early 2000s. He was respectful of my work and I was aware and inspired by his work. After my wife Trini and I helped create Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, “Magu” was one of the artists we featured in our art gallery. In fact, his name was mentioned (we already knew he had cancer) this past Sunday during one of Tia Chucha’s art auction fundraisers in Highland Park—many Chicano artists were featured and we talked about how important “Magu” was for everyone in the movement and the arts Gilbert, who was 70, joined the ancestors on Sunday. Que en paz descansen. c/s
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