Former Rep. Esteban Torres, a one-time welder in an auto plant who grew to become U.S. ambassador to UNESCO and director of the White Home Workplace of Hispanic Affairs earlier than serving eight phrases within the Home, has acquired the UCLA Medal, the college’s highest honor.
Torres was additionally a union organizer, artist and advocate for variety in media as chair of the Nationwide Latino Media Council.
“It was my privilege to current the UCLA Medal to former Congressman Esteban Torres at the moment,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block tweeted.
“A lifelong public servant and activist, he superior racial fairness and improved the security, well being and well-being of individuals usually neglected by these in energy.”
Serving within the Home from 1983-99, Torres was deputy majority whip, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Shopper Affairs and Coinage Subcommittee of the Banking, Finance, and City Affairs Committee.
Torres’ anti-gang laws grew to become regulation as a part of the 1994 Crime Invoice. He authored the Reality-in-Financial savings Act of 1992 which simplified the disclosure of rates of interest and circumstances for financial savings accounts.
Torres was born in Miami, Arizona on Jan. 27, 1930. His household moved to East Los Angeles when he was 6 years previous. He graduated from Garfield Excessive Faculty in 1949 then he joined the U.S. Military, serving within the Corps of Engineers in the course of the Korean battle.
After being discharged in 1953 with the rank of sergeant top notch, Torres used his advantages from the GI Invoice to check on the Los Angeles Artwork Heart.
“I considered instructing in nice arts, however we had began elevating a household and I needed to go to work as a welder,” Torres as soon as mentioned in an interview.
Torres was launched to politics by way of his activism within the native department of the United Auto Staff. In 1958 his co-workers elected him chief steward of the Native 230. He was later appointed the UAW organizer for the western area of the USA.
UAW President Walter Reuther chosen Torres to be a world consultant for the union, based mostly in Washington, D.C. He was the director of the UAW’s Inter-American Bureau for Caribbean and Latin American Affairs from 1964-68.
Torres returned to the Los Angeles space in 1968, founding The East Los Angeles Group Union, a neighborhood motion group that grew underneath his stewardship into one of many nation’s largest antipoverty companies.
Torres unsuccessfully challenged Rep. George Danielson in 1974, then returned to Washington to be the UAW’s assistant director for worldwide affairs.
Torres was additionally chair of the board of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the nonprofit museum and cultural heart in downtown Los Angeles that serves as the one museum documenting and celebrating Los Angeles’ Latino historical past.
A few of Torres’ sketches and sculpture have been displayed on the museum.
“We have been all actually amazed at how gifted he was,” mentioned John Echeveste, the museum’s CEO. “He saved all these sketchbooks of international dignitaries he had drawn in locations he visited.”
Torres’ different honors contains having a highschool in East Los Angeles named for him.
The 171 previous recipients of the UCLA Medal embrace former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Invoice Clinton, former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher and Hillary Clinton, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, former United Nations Secretary-Generals Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon, former UCLA males’s basketball coach John Wood, Sir Lawrence Olivier, singer Ella Fitzgerald and former Los Angeles Mayors Tom Bradley and Antonio Villaraigosa.