Nativo Lopez, Orange County Latino Activist, Dies at 68

Nativo Lopez, at a 2006 news conference in Costa Mesa, calling for a boycott after the city announced it wanted to train police to enforce immigration law. (Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)

Nativo Lopez, at a 2006 news conference in Costa Mesa, calling for a boycott after the city announced it wanted to train police to enforce immigration law. (Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)

When filmmaker Mylène Moreno decided to find a story in 2003 that would illustrate for a national audience how Orange County had changed from the white, conservative stronghold of her youth into something more complex, she chose Nativo Lopez.

The Santa Ana Unified School Board trustee was facing a recall launched by parents who opposed his support of bilingual education. Backing them were Democrats and Republicans who despised Lopez’s longtime advocacy for Latino immigrants and his constant attacks against those he perceived to be vendidos — sellouts.

Moreno says that the timing for the eventual documentary, “Recalling Orange County,” which aired on PBS in 2006, “was kind of perfect…The fact that he had been elected indicated there had been massive political change in Orange County. Yet all these forces coalesced against him because he was teaching [Latinos] that maybe they have some rights they can assert.”

Lopez passed away Sunday after a brief battle with cancer. He was 68.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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