The Friends of Fullerton College Scholarship Committee hosted a dinner event on Thursday, Oct. 13 to announce that the 200 Building will be renamed in honor of Cruz Reynoso. Many members of the Reynoso family and members of state and local government were in attendance.

Gilbert Contreres, Vice President of Student Services at podium, at Fullerton College Oct. 13, 2022 event honoring Cruz Reynoso

Gilbert Contreres, Vice President of Student Services at podium, at Fullerton College Oct. 13, 2022 event honoring Cruz Reynoso Photo credit: Brooke Descalzo

Reynoso graduated from Fullerton College in 1951 before working as a Supreme Court Justice of California, activist, and Professor of Law at University of California, Davis. He became the first Latino director of California Rural Legal Assistance in 1968 and helped end the American use of DDT, a harmful pesticide.

Interim President of Fullerton College Monte Perez said, “In my younger years as a student, as an activist in the Chicano movement, I’ve always admired Cruz Reynoso. To have him as the first Latino in the California Supreme Court, what an honor.”

Reynoso also served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for 11 years as vice-chair. Former President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000.

Some of the delicious Mexican-style pastries, donated for the event at Fullerton College Oct. 13, 2022, honoring Cruz Reynoso

Delicious Pan Dulce Mexican-style pastries were donated for the event at Fullerton College Oct. 13, 2022. Photo credit: Brooke Descalzo

The dedication of the Cruz Reynoso Hall will be Sept. 14, 2023, kicking off next year’s Latino Heritage Month. Zoot Velasco, head of the Scholarship Committee, said, “Today is not the end but the beginning. This is the jumping-off point.”

Thursday’s event launched a year-long fundraiser for a scholarship in honor of Reynoso. Velasco urged people to donate to the new Cruz Reynoso Scholarship fund which has a goal of $150,000.

Freshman student Julia Herrera said, “My parents admire [Reynoso] a lot! My great-great grandparents worked on farms, too. Most of their children didn’t finish high school. My grandfather was the first in his family to graduate.” Herrera shared that she is looking forward to the future Reynoso scholarship and hopes that being an ethnic studies major will factor toward it.

Mariachi band Mariachi Ausente at Fullerton College Oct. 13, 2022 event honoring Cruz Reynoso

Mariachi band, Mariachi Ausente, performs at Fullerton College on Oct. 13, 2022 at an event honoring Cruz Reynoso. Photo credit: Brooke Descalzo

Reynoso died at age 90 on May 7, 2021. Members of Fullerton College and the local community moved to dedicate a building to him. Reynoso will join a small group of individuals honored in this way at FC.

Naming a campus building is a process usually done either via financial endowment or for historical significance, like in Reynoso’s case. The choice of building is apt: the 200 Student Services building which houses the Associated Student Senate rooms. Reynoso was the first Latino person to hold the office of President of the Student Body at Fullerton College.

emcee Gustavo Arellano at podium for Cruz Reynoso

Event emcee and columnist for The Los Angeles Times, Gustavo Arellano, gives a speech at the Cruz Reynoso event on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Photo credit: Brooke Descalzo

Gustavo Arellano, the event’s emcee, said “The problem with Orange County is there are so many heroes that we’ve never heard of until recently. It’s only recently that people want to hear this history. I’ve been writing these stories forever. It would be wonderful if someone would write that, to learn about his story and be inspired to make a better world.”

Arellano has spoken in the past at FC Professor Gerry Padilla’s Ethnic Studies classes and was the keynote speaker for FC’s 2014 Centennial Commencement. The Los Angeles Times columnist said he was invited to such events, because of his written focus on Chicano culture and community. Arellano plans to return for the building dedication in 2023, whether or not he is emcee.

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