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richard alatorre

Born and raised in East Los Angeles, 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 earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Masters Degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. He began politics early, as he put it, student body officer or class officer every semester from junior high school through high school.  In 1960 he heard John F. Kennedy speak at East Los Angeles College, began handing out Kennedy fliers, and then became involved in the campaign of Leopoldo Sanchez, a Latino candidate for judge. He was the first Latino to serve on the Los Angeles City Council in 23 years, becoming the second Latino to serve on the council in the 20th century. Prior to being elected to the City Council (1985-1999), he served in the California State Assembly for 13 years (1972-1985) and was known as a chief ally of the Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. As a member of the California State Assembly, he served in various capacities, including Chairman on 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, giving migrant workers collective bargaining rights. In 2016, he published his autobiographical book 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. 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.