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Rep. Roybal-Allard Announces U.S. Capitol to Plant Memorial Tree for Rep. Edward R. Roybal

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Washington, March 9, 2016 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Today, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) announced that her father, the late Congressman Edward R. Roybal, will have a tree planted in his honor on the U.S. Capitol Grounds during a ceremony on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, at 2:00 PM ET.  The tree, a red oak (Quercus rubra), will be planted on the Capitol’s south side.  Congressman Roybal served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1963 to 1993, and was one of the era’s leading congressional voices on health care, education, housing, and jobs policy.  He also co-founded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), and founded the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

The tree is being planted to mark the centennial of Congressman Roybal’s birth, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the CHC.  In October, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard led a letter signed by 52 of her House colleagues to the Architect of the Capitol, requesting approval to plant the tree from the Speaker of the House and the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee.  That approval has been granted.

The ceremony will be attended by Congresswoman Roybal-Allard and other members of Congressman Roybal’s family.  Other distinguished guests are expected to include House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV), who will all join Congresswoman Roybal-Allard in speaking during the ceremony.  House Chaplain Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J., will bless the tree.

“My family and I are so gratified to know that our beloved father will be granted a permanent place of honor at the U.S. Capitol,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.  “For thirty years, Congressman Roybal served faithfully in the House of Representatives as a strong, unwavering advocate for the voiceless and the downtrodden in Los Angeles and across our country.  I am deeply grateful to my House colleagues who joined in the call to recognize him with this memorial tree.  I also thank House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Rules Committee Chair Roy Blunt for approving this rare and generous remembrance of Congressman Roybal and his work to make our nation a better place for everyone.”

WHAT: Ceremony to plant a memorial red oak tree (Quercus rubra) on the U.S. Capitol Grounds honoring the late Congressman Edward R. Roybal.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 16, 2016, at 2:00 PM ET.

WHERE: Along Southwest Drive on the south side of the U.S. House, near the intersection of Independence Avenue SW and South Capitol Street.

•  Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)
•  House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12)
•  House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05)
•  Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV)
•  House Chaplain Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J.

Accredited members of the news media can RSVP to

Biography of Congressman Edward R. Roybal

Throughout his public service on the Los Angeles City Council and in the U.S. Congress, Congressman Edward R. Roybal was a man of the people who believed in a government committed to helping the underrepresented, the dispossessed, and the forgotten.  His humanity was reflected in every aspect of his public career – he authored landmark legislation regarding fair housing, equal employment, bilingual education, childhood immunization, aging, HIV/AIDS, and care for people with disabilities, and secured public health funds to reach people at risk.  Throughout his political career, he had the moral courage to speak out against injustices and wrongs, and to never stand down when others advised him that it could cost him his political future.

Edward Ross Roybal was born on February 10, 1916, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  At the age of six, his family moved to the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.  After graduation from Roosevelt High School in 1934, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps.  He later continued his education at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he studied business administration, and at Southwestern University, where he studied law.

After working for the California Tuberculosis Association, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  Upon his return, he continued his work with the California Tuberculosis Association as its director of health education for Los Angeles County.

Mr. Roybal first ran unsuccessfully for the Los Angeles City Council in 1947.  Reacting positively to his defeat, he co-founded the Community Service Organization (CSO) to empower the neglected Ninth District of Los Angeles to fight against discrimination in housing, employment, and education. 

In 1949, following a groundswell of support from minority communities, Mr. Roybal was elected to serve the Ninth District on the Los Angeles City Council.  He made history as the first Hispanic to serve on the city council in more than a century.  He served the Ninth District for 13 years.

Mr. Roybal was the Democratic nominee for California Lieutenant Governor in 1954.  In 1958, his opponent was declared the winner in a controversial vote count for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Edward Roybal served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years.  He was first elected to the House in 1962 to serve the 30th District of California, which included communities like Boyle Heights, Hollywood, Hancock Park, MacArthur Park, and Downtown Los Angeles.  He was the first Hispanic from California to serve in Congress since 1879.  Following the redistricting based on the 1970 census, Rep. Roybal won election in California’s newly created 25th District, which, like the 30th, was comprised of constituents from widely diverse ethnicities.  

Rep. Roybal was a powerful advocate for funding for education, civil rights, and health programs.  He was the first member of Congress to appropriate funding for HIV/AIDS research.

Early in his congressional career, Rep. Roybal served on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, the Post Office Committee, and later the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Veterans' Affairs Committee.  In 1971, he was selected to serve on the exclusive Committee on Appropriations, where he remained for the rest of his tenure in the House.  He became one of the thirteen cardinals of the House when he was elected chair of the Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee in 1981.

Rep. Roybal also served on the Select Committee on Aging, serving as chair from 1985 to 1993.  In 1980, he led a campaign for the restoration of funds to programs for the elderly.  In 1982, he was successful in maintaining the Meals on Wheels program.  He was also one of the principal authors of the Older Americans Act.

In 1976, Rep. Roybal was one of the founding members and the first chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).  He was also founding member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

In 1992, his daughter, California Assemblywoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, was elected to serve the newly created 33rd Congressional District of California.

In 1993, former Rep. Roybal used his remaining campaign funds to found the non-profit Edward R. Roybal Foundation to award scholarships for students in public health.  He also founded the Edward R. Roybal Institute for Applied Gerontology, dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of health and human service delivery to older persons, now located at the University of Southern California.

In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) honored Rep. Roybal for his trailblazing leadership and long-standing support for public health programs by naming its main campus in Atlanta in his honor and awarding him its Champion of Prevention Award.

In 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded Rep. Roybal the Presidential Citizens Medal for over 50 years of "exemplary deeds of service for our nation."

The annual award given by NALEO for outstanding public service is named the Edward R. Roybal Public Service Award in his honor.

In 2004, Rep. Roybal was recognized as a "Latino Legend of the 20th Century" by the Mexican-American Political Association.

In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Rep. Roybal the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.  In his remarks at the medal presentation, President Obama said of Rep. Roybal, “He left us nearly a decade ago, but Edward Roybal was and remains a hero to so many – not just Latinos but all Americans.”

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