Communism Through My Eyes: My Father Robert Trujillo, 1903 – 1986 by Mary Lou Salazar, PhD is the fascinating story of an iconic but little-known figure in Colorado’s political and social history, her father. Robert Trujillo became a communist in 1936 during the hardships of the Great Depression. Later he became the Chairman of the Communist Party in Colorado. He remained a communist for fifty years. As his youngest daughter, Mary Lou shares with us her childhood memories, as well as the historical facts, about her beloved father.
She speaks to us from the perspective of a wide-eyed little girl sitting on the steps in her house looking down into her living room at the dozens of people who frequently gathered there. They came to feast on her mother’s tamales and listen to her father, Robert, make rousing speeches about justice and equal rights for the common people; rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution regardless of race, religion, gender or socio-economic status. Robert wanted to improve the rights of the common people through equal opportunities for jobs, food, housing, education, and medical help.
Though a communist who believed deeply in the rights of the common man, Trujillo never proposed overthrowing the government by violence. He was a staunch proponent of peaceful change through legislation. Trujillo roused people through dialogue, petitions, letters, peaceful demonstrations and sit ins. He was a follower of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Robert Trujillo was known by Colorado’s legislators, policy makers and the media as a brilliant, generous, big-hearted, and peaceful man.
With great joy and pride Mary Lou remembers all the voices in her home – African American, white, Native American, Latino. People singing rousing songs of power, pride and overcoming. But she also remembers being shaken by desperate fear whenever her father was threatened and arrested for peaceful protests.
Robert Trujillo took great personal risks for what he believed in and set an example of the power of peaceful protest in the state of Colorado. He left a legacy of peaceful political and social change. He also set a powerful example for his youngest daughter, Mary Lou, who went on to get her doctorate in Peace Studies. She has continued her father’s work by advocating for justice and equality and by teaching peace, assertiveness training, decision-making and conflict resolution to young people.