Longtime L.A. Activist Don White Dies at 70

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Longtime Los Angeles political activist Don White has died. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports that White was a fixture in progressive movements for more than three decades.

Frank Stoltze: Many people knew Don White best for his work with CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. During the 1980s, the group provided assistance to Salvadoran war refugees flooding into Los Angeles. White frequently traveled to El Salvador during the war.

Blasé Bonpane: Here he was, going to the nation that was governed by death squads, clearly supporting the opposition and publicly speaking there. This, you know, is about as risky a thing as you can do.

Stoltze: Blasé Bonpane, a fellow activist and friend, said White helped organize dozens of political rallies in Los Angeles over the years. He said in jail, after acts of civil disobedience, White often cracked jokes to keep their spirits up. Three years ago, White told radio station KPFK why he had arranged for a group of Iraqi labor activists to visit.

Don White: Finally, here in Los Angeles, Iraqis will be speaking for themselves. They'll be telling us what impact this has had on their country, on their union organizing, on their families. They're going to tell us about the devastation of the invasion and the occupation.

Stoltze: White worked for more than three decades as a public school teacher in Los Angeles. He served on the boards of the Southern California Fair Trade Network, Americans for Democratic Action, and Pacifica Radio. White died of an apparent heart attack at his home during the weekend. He was 70-years-old.