2021 Explanatory Reporting, Large Newsroom finalist

The Chicano Moratorium: 50 Years Later

About the Project

In the “The Chicano Moratorium: 50 Years Later,” The Times sought to capture how a 1970 anti-war protest in East Los Angeles galvanized a generation of Mexican American activists who transformed a community politically, socially and culturally.

The date Aug. 29, 1970, may not resonate elsewhere, but in Los Angeles’ Latino community and among Latino journalists nationwide, it’s long been remembered as the day trailblazing journalist Ruben Salazar died at the hands of sheriff’s deputies. The basic facts about the National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War have been well-documented: a peaceful march and rally in L.A.’s mostly Mexican American eastside devolved into chaos as deputies firing tear gas stormed a public park where marchers had gathered. Salazar died when hit with a tear gas projectile.

A year before the 50th anniversary of the moratorium, a group of mostly Latino staffers began discussing how to mark the drama and significance of that day while also showing how the pressing issues at play back then – injustice and police brutality – remained relevant today. Most of the reporting, editing and design was done last summer, just as these very issues took on greater urgency following the death of George Floyd and increased prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

One of the more arresting elements of the Chicano Moratorium project is the bold online design — distinguished by extensive use of black, mustard and other earth-toned colors, which evokes the era of the Chicano Movement, while avoiding parody. The designers found inspiration in posters, protest buttons, T-shirts and even album covers from the late 1960s and 1970s.

Along with the stories, graphics and videos, The Times also live-streamed a panel of three writers and one editor discussing the lasting impact of the Chicano Moratorium. They also took questions from the public and explained how the project came about. About 20,000 people tuned in that night to watch. The video – spread on Facebook, YouTube and other social media – has been seen more than 40,000 times.