July 7, 1958 – December 31, 2022
Lawrence Reyes, Boricua independentista, revolutionary internationalist, father, labor organizer, mental health social worker, practitioner of the “Red Road” of Indigenous traditional spiritual practice, KPFK Local Station Board listener delegate and Pacifica National Board director, passed away December 31 due to complications of diabetes.
His death is an incalculable loss to all who knew his warmth, heart, dedication and passion personally and to many others who experienced the impact of his work with the Grassroots Community Radio Coalition, the National Boricua Human Rights Network and Puerto Rican Alliance of Los Angeles, Service Employees International Union Local 721 – where he served on the Executive Board, in the Latino Caucus and as a shop steward – the L.A. U.S Hands Off Cuba Committee, Pacifica Fightback, Radio Justice LA where he produced the internet radio program “From Decolonization to Liberation,” and the Jericho Amnesty Coalition to free all political prisoners, among many other commitments and affiliations.
Lawrence grew up in New York, where he was a “baby” Young Lord (an older sibling was a member) and attended the Free Breakfast for Children program of the Black Panther Party. It was to that upbringing and the example of his mother and sisters that he attributed his social conscience and commitment. Lawrence attended Brooklyn College and later played collegiate varsity basketball in the southeast. Like others who experienced childhood poverty, oppression and repression, in the wake of the decline in the revolutionary social movements and organizations like the Young Lords, the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement, because of COINTELPRO, he ran afoul of addictive substances and the law and served time in prison, a history he acknowledged and drew on in both his political work and his empathetic ministering to the social needs of his clients at the LA County Department of Mental Health. But those experiences certainly took a toll on his physical health and well-being. He had previously survived a serious heart attack.
Lawrence gave of himself unstintingly at work, in his union, and especially to KPFK and Pacifica, where he was involved in the struggle to craft democratic Bylaws. He was elected and re-elected to the Local Station Board as a listener delegate, and served on the Pacifica National Board, including a brief tenure as its chair, helping to reverse the shutdown and takeover of WBAI in NY by an interim Executive Director and a minority faction of the national board. He was involved in two successful efforts to defend the democratic Bylaws of Pacifica, maintain the elected LSBs, and uphold the unity of the whole foundation and its five stations.
Lawrence is survived by his son, Taino Rodriguez Reyes, a daughter, his sisters Nicole and Martha, his former spouse, Gilda Rodriguez, with whom he co-parented Taino, and by friends, comrades, and mentees that he treated like family. The video of a two-hour tribute to Lawrence while he was hospitalized is posted at https://pacificafightback.org/in-memoriam-lawrence-reyes-presente/ and a memorial service is being planned. Those who wish to donate in his memory are encouraged to become members of KPFK, which he loved to the last, by going to https://kpfk.org and clicking on “donate”.
Pa’lante, Siempre Pa’lante!
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