Roybal Learning Center

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School History

Our School Name

Inspired by Edward R. Roybal's community work and accomplishements in Congress, our school adopted his name as symbol of hard work and leadership.

Rough Rider from the Start

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Edward Roybal and his family moved west and settled in Boyle Heights. When Roybal was twelve years old, his father became ill, forcing him to help support his family of eight. His mother emphasized the importance of education, insisting he only work after school, and in 1934, Roybal graduated from Roosevelt High School - the Rough Riders.

Like many Mexican American youths of his generation, Roybal experienced discrimination, most famously at Evergreen Park swimming pool where Mexican youths were prohibited from swimming except on the days before it was disinfected. He successfully protested this injustice and the pool was later opened to the entire community. As an adult, he continued to work against injustices such as substandard health care for the poor.

He studied Business Administration at UCLA and law at Southwestern University. Roybal served in WWII from 1944-45. His first public role was as director of health education at the Los Angeles County Tuberculosis and Health Association. His work there earned him the attention of community leaders who urged him to run for Los Angeles City Council in 1947.
Losing the election by a close margin and motivated by the fact that only one-fifth of the Mexican American community was registered to vote, Roybal, community organizers and his supporters formed the Community Service Organization. They began a systematic effort to address discrimination and community priorities such as education, health, housing, jobs, and political representation. Their efforts were a success as an astonishing number of Latino voters turned out to elect him to the Los Angeles City Council in 1949.

A Local Champion

In 1949, Edward Roybal became the first Latino elected to Los Angeles City Council in the 20th Century. In response to community concerns over both police abuses and at-risk youth, Roybal organized a committee to try officers accused of misconduct and developed programs that provided greater opportunities for young people. Understanding the root causes of teen as poverty, poor education, and overcrowded living conditions, he proposed a public-private initiative that would help rehabilitate hard-to-reach youths by giving them a job where they could earn and learn at the same time. A constant defender of the underrepresented, Roybal strongly opposed the eviction of residents from Chavez Ravine despite threats made against his life. He worked to improve basic services for those in his District, with better street lights and playgrounds, and fought to save Hazard Park when it was slated to be sold as federal land, further industrializing East Los Angeles. Roybal was one of the original founders and served as the first president of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), whose mission was to empower the Latino community. This played a major role in electing Roybal to a fourth term. Roybal continued to champion for improvements in health care, better working conditions and other causes that led to meaningful change. After a successful thirteen years in service, Edward R. Roybal took on Washington, D.C.

Roybal was elected to the United States Congress in 1963. Throughout his time in Congress, Roybal fought to create equal educational opportunities in his heavily Latino district. In 1967 Edward Roybal authored the first bilingual education bill, providing Los Angeles school districts with assistance for special bilingual teaching programs. Several other notable programs improved the education provided to countless young people such as: funding for early education that went into pre-school training for nearly 4,000 children from low-income families; grants which provided tutorial programs for minority children and parent-teacher relations programs which supported teachers and engaged families. Congressman Roybal strongly opposed attempts to reduce education assistance, protecting loans that provided low-to-middle income families a critical opportunity for higher education. In a time when Congress was cutting back on Pell grants for college students, Roybal fought for full continuation of the Guaranteed Student Loan program. Congressman Roybal supported efforts directed at promoting youth employment such as the innovative Hire-A-Youth campaign, aimed at urging the nation's 10 million businesses to hire one million unemployed young men and women. Congressman Roybal was also one of the founders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which monitored all three branches of government to ensure that Latino American needs were seen as important as that of any other American. He was also founder and president of NALEO (National Association of Latino Appointed and Elected Officials). In 1982, despite major opposition and political risk, Congressman Roybal took leadership and was successful at raising significant funds for AIDS research, further strengthening his legacy of fighting for the underrepresented.

The impact of the grand accomplishments and legacy left by Congressman Edward Roybal is immeasurable. He has left an indelible mark on the dreams and aspirations of all young people who are now able to build on his legacy to achieve their dreams.

See more pictures
Please visit these sites for additional information:

www.roybalfoundation.org/about.htm

www.naleo.org/aboutroybal.html

About information used on this site:

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the official Mexican American cultural center of Los Angeles, and the Alliance for a Better Community, a non-profit organizationt that played a key role in the opening of the Roybal Learning Center, provided information for this section.

http://www.lapca.org/

http://www.afabc.org/

About photographs used on this site:

The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library and Archive was recently awarded a John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation Grant in support of the preservation and digitization of the Edward R. Roybal Photograph Collection. This rich photographic collection documents Congressman Roybal's public service career from the 1940s to the 1990s. This project will make the original photographs available to the public through an online archive hosted by the UCLA Digital Library. For more information visit: www.chicano.ucla.edu.