Born in East Los Angeles in 1943, Richard Alatorre went on to become one of the most influential Latino politicians in California. A relentless champion of reapportionment, he led the fight to force the Census Bureau to count non-citizens, which would eventually mean more political power for Latinos, giving them their most substantial political representation in history.
Alatorre attended Garfield High School, where he was the student body president. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Master of Arts degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. Alatorre was elected to the California State Assembly in 1972. In the 13 years he served there, he was Chairman of the Select Committee on Farm Labor Violence; Chairman of the Human Services Committee; Chairman of the historic 1980 Elections and Reapportionment Committee; Founder and Chairman of the Chicano Caucus of the California State Legislature; and Chairman of the Prison Reform Committee. During his tenure in the Assembly, he authored the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which helped shape the state's farm labor law and gave migrant workers collective bargaining rights. In 1985, he won a special election to become just the second Latino to serve on the Los Angeles City Council in the twentieth century. He served on the Council until 1999.
In 2016, he published his autobiography, Change from the Inside: My Life, the Chicano Movement, and the Story of an Era, chronicling the events that advanced Latino empowerment from the 1960s through the 1990s. Richard Alatorre's ground-breaking work helped many of California's cultural and ethnic communities, enabling them to finally have the kind of representation they had been denied.