The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) mourns the passing of a great man, the Honorable Edward Ross Roybal one of the CHC’s founding members, it first chair and a tough champion of the Latino community. Rep. Roybal, who in 1963 became the first Latino from California to serve in Congress since 1879 and whose total dedication and vision carved a wide path of advocacy for Hispanics in the U.S.
“Congressman Roybal was not only a trailblazer in developing Latino politics, he was a caring, extremely honest and much loved servant of the people,” said Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, CHC chair. “We, the Latino electeds, owe him greatly.”
During his long public service career, Rep. Roybal was a constant voice for Latinos and a nucleus for action in the fight against discrimination. In 1947, Roybal founded the Los Angeles Community Service Organization (CSO) with the goal of mobilizing Los Angeles’ Mexican Americans against discrimination on housing, employment and education.
Rep. Roybal’s thirty-year career in Congress, which ended in 1993, is replete with accomplishments. In 1971, Rep. Roybal was selected to serve on the Appropriations Committee, where he remained for the rest of his tenure in the House. He became chair of the Treasury, Postal Service General Government Subcommittee in 1981. He was a powerful advocate for funding for education, civil rights, and health programs.
His advocacy work in areas as public health and education earned him numerous accolades. In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) honored Rep. Roybal’s support for public health programs by naming its main campus in Atlanta in his honor and awarding him its Champion of Prevention Award. In 2001, President Clinton awarded Rep. Roybal the Presidential Citizens Medal for “exemplary deeds of service for our nation.” The annual award for outstanding public service given by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) of which he was a founding member is named the Edward R. Roybal Public Service Award in his honor. In 2004, Rep. Roybal was recognized by the Mexican-American Political Association as a “Latino Legend of the 20th Century.”