The Death of a Reputable Man

The Death of a Reputable Man

Column: Want to see more Latinos in books? Start by reading these books.

A few days before his death, I read his obituary in the Washington Post. The death of a respected man, but a death nonetheless. He had been the longest-serving chairman of the Democratic National Committee, elected three times by his party to serve out the final period of President Bill Clinton’s administration. He was the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus from 1995 until his death in 1998. He was a champion of immigration reform. He worked tirelessly to defeat President Donald Trump’s border security proposals.

Yet even in death, he was a controversial figure. His death received almost no notice from the press. The story of his death was written up in one obituary in his hometown newspaper and in a few brief pieces in national media.

In this column from the Los Angeles Times, the obituaries from the L.A. Times and his hometown newspaper are joined by another, covering his legislative work on immigration, in The Times’s series “A Life in Politics.” But this also is not the story of his legislative work. It is the story of his legacy and of what it means to have Latino representation in the halls of power in the United States.

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