Frank del Olmo: voice of the minorities

California State University, Northridge has a very extensive and phenomenal list of alumni. One of the many notable scholars to graduate from California State University, Northridge (CSUN) was Frank del Olmo.

Frank del Olmo was born on May 18, 1948. The CSUN almuni graduated magna cum laude in 1970. He was chosen as the outstanding journalism graduate and the outstanding overall graduate. That same year he began to intern at The Times as part of the metropolitan staff. He was a founding member of the California Chicano News Media Association in 1972. During the 1970s he was a staff writer specializing in Latin American affairs for 9 years. From there he took his talents and worked as an editorial writer until 1989.

Throughout his career as a well known journalist, he won several prestigous awars including, an Emmy Award for writing the documentary, “The Unwanted”, and a shared Pulitzer prize. Del Olmo was known for being the voice of the Latino community, he was even selected to lead the Latino initiative in 1998. The purpose of this was to increase and improve coverage of Southern California’s largest minority group.

In 1968 Mexican Americans from five prodomenately Chicano high schools — Garfield, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Wilson and Belmont — helped to lead a major student strike to demand better education. Due to the poor education that was in place before, this assertive minority group decided to strike. This resulted in the supposed “East L.A. blowouts.” This was the first time these Los Angeles city schools put importance on the education of minorities.

Below is a picture showing what the “Blow Out” strikes were like in these high schools.

According to an educational researcher, the drop out rates for Mexican American high school students in East Los Angeles were amongst the hightest in the nation in 1968. Garfield at 57 percent, Roosevelt at 45 percent, Lincoln at 39 percent, and Belmont at 35 percent. “Anyone with eyes could see that te sxhool on the East Side were run down.” says Alicia Sandoval former Roosevelt Teacher.

“Shouting Demands” — Frank del Olmo Collection/California State University, Northridge archives

Del Olmo spent his life as a journalist trying to make a chance for the Chicano communities, all around Los Angeles, its surrounding cities and throughout the country. In 2004, he died of a heart attack in his office. Times Editor and major voice for Latinos died doing what he loved.

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