Utah civil rights icon Archie Archuleta dies at 88

SALT LAKE CITY -- Robert "Archie" Archuleta, a longtime community and civil rights activist, has died.

The House and Senate Democratic caucuses announced his passing in a statement late Friday. He was 88 years old.

"Archie was the voice for the Utah Latino community," Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said in a statement. "We are who we are today because of him. We hope to honor his legacy by continuing to advocate on behalf of marginalized communities."

Archuleta became a well-known community activist in Utah, mobilizing the Latino community to speak out on issues that faced them. He worked in Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson's administration throughout his terms.

He was also the principal of what would later become Horizonte school. But it was his work for the Utah Coalition of La Raza that would make him best known as he would work with -- and sometimes protest against -- politicians as he advanced issues important to minorities.

"Utah’s Latino community has lost a titan, a champion and advocate for so many issues and causes," said Richard Jaramillo, current president of Utah Coalition of La Raza, in a statement. "Archie helped shape the Latino community, the nature of local activism, and made so many personal connections across the state that his impact has been truly profound."

In October, Archuleta and his wife, Lois, were presented with the key to the city by Mayor Jackie Biskupski.

"Our entire office is mourning the loss of our friend and Salt Lake City activist Archie Archuleta. Archie was a mentor to me and many others on my staff," she said in a statement issued Saturday morning. "Wherever Archie went his smile would light up a room and behind that smile, was the mind and soul of a fierce advocate for equality. Archie was an early supporter of mine and the entire LGBTQ community in Utah, helping to bridge the gap between civil rights movements in Salt Lake City."

"Through his example and work, Archie gave voice to marginalized people, reminded those in power of their responsibility to build inclusive communities, and encouraged others to stand-up and act."

Congressman Ben McAdams also offered his condolences:

Archuleta is survived by his wife Lois and their five children—Jason Roberto, Florencia Lucienne, Keith Emiliano, Micaela Lisette, Letitia P.—and six grandchildren.

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