The Times’ 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning series

In the summer of 1983, The Times published a series on Southern California’s Latino community. It was produced by a team of Latino editors, writers and photographers. The idea was to move beyond stereotypes and to produce stories that described Latinos in their full dimension, using feature articles, first-person stories, oral histories, commentaries and photos. They covered stories of success, struggle, art, politics, family, religion, culture, education, farm labor and history. In 1984, the series won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The stories are now available in digital form for the first time.

Please note: Our standards on certain terms such as “illegal,” “illegal immigrant” and “blacks” have changed, but we have preserved the original text in order to provide an accurate account of the work in print.

The 1983 series

Boyle Heights is a barrio, a bastion of Latino culture, populated by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who began arriving in large numbers 30 years ago.

As with the many other ethnic groups in American society, it is impossible and unfair to lump all Latinos into one category—social, political or otherwise.

For Latinos, the language and culture of their Latin-American homeland has not faded away with the passage of time.

Chicano writers have rescued Spanish as a literary language in the United States.


37 years later: Looking back

In the newsroom, a small group of seasoned Latino journalists urged others to contribute their free time and best ideas toward creating a series that would set the record straight on a community of 3 million, as well as the increasingly important role they held in shaping the character of California and the nation.

The Times won a Pulitzer for its 1983 project chronicling the lives of Southern California Latinos. It wasn’t a part of our digital archive, until now.

While bringing the 1983 series on Southern California’s Latinos to the web for the first time, a Times staffer feels a new sense of family pride.

More from the 1983 series


This page was designed and built by Christian Orozco, Denise Florez, Fidel Martinez, Lora Victorio and Dan Gaines. Original 1983 “Latinos” logo by Steve Lopez. Logo retouching by Vanessa Martínez. Photo editing by Calvin Hom. Research by Cary Schneider and Julia Franco. Special thanks to Angel Rodriguez, Louis Sahagun, Nancy Rivera-Brooks, Frank Sotomayor, Monte Morin, Shelby Grad and Richard Nelson.