‘Pulitzer’ Winning Journalist to be Memorialized

By EGP News Report

George Ramos, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was born and raised in East Los Angeles will be memorialized by the California Chicano News Media Association (CCNMA: Latinos Journalists of California) on Wednesday Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Eugene Obregon American Legion Post 804 in East Los Angeles.

Ramos, who had been suffering from increased complications from diabetes, was found deceased on July 23 in his Morro Bay home. An autopsy by the San Luis Obispo County coroner determined the cause of death was a heart attack caused by a clot.

Until the age of about 15, Ramos, who liked to refer to himself as “the kid from East L.A.” lived in the Belvedere Gardens neighborhood. He attended Hammel Street Elementary, and reportedly said he was once punished for speaking Spanish.

His parents realized “their dream” of buying a nicer home and moving out of East LA in 1957, he recalled in “American Dream Lives in the Barrio,” a poignant article he wrote as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

“Grandma then moved into our home on Record, but I continued to spend a lot of time there until I went to college because I felt strange in our new environment,” wrote Ramos, adding that while his parents thought their new home in Downey was “the end of their rainbow,” his experience in a new school and community were not so idyllic.

Ramos served as a second lieutenant in the US Army during the Vietnam War. He saw combat and earned a Purple Heart.

He went on to study journalism at Cal Poly San Louis Obispo and graduated in 1969. He spent 25 years as a reporter, editor, bureau chief and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.

George Ramos speaking at a veteran’s ceremony in East LA in 2009. (Office of Councilmember Jose Huizar)

As a street reporter, George Ramos was “passionate and fiery, who constantly searched for the human side of the news,” recalls First District Councilmember Ed P. Reyes.

“A proud son of the Eastside, he intimately captured the Latino experience in Los Angeles and never lost sight of the human dimension in journalism,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa upon learning of Ramos’ death.
Indeed, in 1984, Ramos became the first Hispanic journalist to win the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Meritorious Public Service for a three-week series of stories about the lives of Hispanics in California.
In 1993, he received a second Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the Rodney King beating case. Two years later he earned another Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
While on staff at the LA Times, Ramos also taught at USC Annenberg.
“After chasing stories all day for the L.A. Times, George Ramos would rush over to USC to teach evening classes in reporting,” said adjunct journalism professor Frank Sotomayor, who worked with Ramos at the Times and USC. “He was known as one of the toughest instructors at Annenberg but also one of the best. He was an adjunct for a number of years and influenced the careers and lives of untold number of students.”
Ramos served two terms as president of CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California.
He left Los Angeles in 2003 to teach journalism at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In 2007, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists inducted him into its Hall of Fame.
At the time of his death, he was the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo journalism department chair and CalCoastNews Editor.
“Boisterous, fiery and passionate, Ramos was a man known for many things and when you crossed his path it was unlikely you could forget that fact. Ramos was a proud man, and rightfully so, considering his life of many accomplishments. Ramos was also a man who put his aspirations for a conventional family life aside and instead dedicated his life to journalism and helping to advance the lives of Latinos,” wrote CalCoastNews writers Lisa Rizzo and Josh Friedman in the obituary published on July 24.
Ramos was never married and has no children; he is survived by a brother, Dan Ramos.
CCNMA’s tribute will include video footage and photos, as well as recollections from friends in the industry and the community. Eugene Obregon American Legion Post 804 is locatd at 4615 E. Cesar Chavez Ave. East Los Angeles 90022.

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August 11, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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