Dolores Sanchez, trailblazing L.A. neighborhood newspaper writer, dies at 87


Dolores Sanchez, a longtime neighborhood chief who was the writer of a sequence of bilingual newspapers that offered a crucial voice for residents within the predominantly Latino communities on Los Angeles’ Eastside and neighboring cities, has died. She was 87.

Sanchez had been in poor health in latest months and handed away Thursday, daughter Gloria Alvarez mentioned.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa described Sanchez as a towering determine whose contributions prolonged past journalism into political and social activism.

“She was somebody who knew the Eastside, cared concerning the Eastside and advocated for the Eastside,” he mentioned. “She knew she needed to give again [to the community].”

For almost 40 years, Sanchez was the writer of Japanese Group Publications, which in its heyday operated 11 newspapers that included the Eastside Solar, the Mexican American Solar, the Commerce Comet and Bell Gardens Solar. The chain was a cultural establishment that lined neighborhood tales largely ignored by bigger information organizations.

“On the time, the L.A. Instances and the Herald Examiner didn’t cowl the Eastside besides when there have been murders and crime,” mentioned writer and former Los Angeles poet laureate Luis J. Rodríguez, who wrote for the papers within the early Nineteen Eighties whereas he was attending East Los Angeles School at evening.

“The Eastside Solar lined all types of stories — parades, festivals, household gatherings, the place to go to get your drainage mounted,” he mentioned. “It was a public service. You went to it to select up data you wouldn’t get anyplace else.”

?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcalifornia times sanchez2 - Dolores Sanchez, trailblazing L.A. neighborhood newspaper writer, dies at 87

Dolores Sanchez, pictured along with her daughter Gloria Alvarez, shuttered Japanese Group Publications in 2018.

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Instances)

Whereas every newspaper was edited for the communities of East L.A. and southeast Los Angeles, their tales “helped create a bigger neighborhood,” mentioned Rodríguez.

Working in neighborhoods that had been fractured by freeways and concrete disregard, Sanchez created a crucial discussion board for Latinos in part of Los Angeles that had lengthy been marginalized and ignored.

“For my mother, a very powerful factor was to offer her area people a voice,” Alvarez mentioned. “It wasn’t sufficient to simply discuss concerning the neighborhood, she additionally wished the neighborhood to speak about themselves.”

For Sanchez, working the newspapers was a household enterprise that spanned almost 40 years. She ran the information facet of the enterprise and wrote a column. Her husband, Jonathan Sanchez, was the affiliate writer and chief working officer till his dying in 2016. Alvarez was the managing editor, and one other son and daughter had been the chief monetary officer and operations supervisor, respectively.

“She stored alive a voice to and for our neighborhood,” mentioned Félix Gutiérrez, a USC professor emeritus of journalism who was raised in Lincoln Heights, a neighborhood that Japanese Group lined. She “centered on native points and took a stand.”

Born in Phoenix, Sanchez grew up in Los Angeles and had lived in Highland Park for 40 years.

She owned a number of grocery shops along with her first husband and after their divorce, stayed energetic in political and civic teams at a time when Los Angeles’ burgeoning Mexican American neighborhood was battling for political affect on the native, state and federal ranges.

Villaraigosa, who was raised in East L.A.’s Metropolis Terrace neighborhood, recalled stocking cabinets and dealing as a cashier for Sanchez and her husband at a reduction grocery retailer they owned when he was 16.

She was a mentor for Eastside youth and confused the significance of schooling and arduous work, he mentioned.

Alvarez recounted that her mom was among the many founders of the Mexican American Political Assn., a pioneering group that sought to spice up civic engagement within the early Nineteen Sixties and improve the variety of Mexican American elected officers, in addition to the Chicana Service Motion Middle, a nonprofit that offered job coaching and different providers for Latinas.

She additionally helped discovered the Mexican American Grocers Assn., which advocated for enterprise alternatives for Latino entrepreneurs. In 1978, Sanchez was appointed by President Carter to the Nationwide Fee on Unemployment Compensation.

Sanchez was amongst a dozen Mexican American buyers who bought Japanese Group in 1979. On the time, the chain was close to monetary collapse after the dying of its founding writer, Joseph Kovner, who launched the Eastside Solar in 1945 when the world was house to a thriving Jewish neighborhood.

“There was little or no mass media out there to this neighborhood,” Sanchez advised The Instances in a 2018 interview. “One might virtually say it was nonexistent. We felt this was an ideal time to experiment, to say that in the event that they received’t discuss us, we’ll discuss ourselves.”

The choice and dedication was vital, mentioned Diana Martinez, editor of the San Fernando Valley Solar/El Sol. “That they had the expertise, funds and connections to do the rest professionally, and so they determined to save lots of and construct a sequence of neighborhood newspapers in a neighborhood that didn’t have them.”

For many years, the newspapers lined highschool sports activities rivalries and tales of neighborhood success — in English and Spanish — delivered free to tens of hundreds of properties each Thursday.

The papers additionally held authorities companies and others accountable, shining a highlight on issues affecting native residents. Japanese Group printed greater than 100 tales about poisonous emissions and lead contamination from the battery recycler Exide Applied sciences in Vernon, which is not in operation.

“The Japanese Group broke that story,” mentioned Martinez. “Neighborhood newspapers break tales on a regular basis, and bigger papers swoop in and declare them for their very own, which is ok, after all, however neighborhood newspapers don’t get the help they want.”

Sanchez was not afraid to offer alternatives to aspiring journalists who had need however lacked expertise. One in every of them was Rodríguez.

He recalled exhibiting up on the Japanese Group workplace and telling Sanchez and her husband that he had labored in native factories however wished to be a author.

“That they had no purpose to rent me apart from I actually wished to work there,” Rodríguez mentioned. “I’ve to offer them credit score for accepting me and serving to me get into the world [of writing].”

Like different native newspapers throughout the nation, Japanese Group Publications was buffeted by financial challenges and modifications in information consumption spurred by the Web. Sanchez shuttered the enterprise in 2018, writing in her last column that the household “really believed there was somebody ready within the wings” to purchase the newspapers.

Sanchez is survived by 5 youngsters and 20 grandchildren.


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