Luis Garcia is the migrant student services director at Migrant Student Services, and Rubén Martinez is a professor of sociology in the College of Social Science and director of the Julian Samora Research Institute.
Judge Isidore Torres was our colleague and an MSU alumnus who dedicated much of his career to speaking up for those whose voices are seldom heard. Regrettably, he passed away on Jan. 12 at age 73.
He was nicknamed “the Brown warrior” by Jane Garcia, one of his colleagues who met him while he was a law student at Wayne State University. This name truly embodied what Torres — the first Chicano judge in Wayne County — stood for.
As someone who worked closely with Torres, Garcia describes him as a diligent worker who was committed to his community and says he “always pushed the agenda for us to be at the table.”
Judge Torres was a bold, funny and humble man who used his platform in the judicial system to combat racial inequalities and make great strides for the advancement of ethno-racial minorities, especially for the Latino community.
His journey began modestly. Before graduating high school, he was a migrant worker picking crops in Texas and Michigan, namely Traverse City and Bay City. From there, he attended MSU, graduating in 1973 with a degree in criminal justice, and he later obtained his law degree from Wayne State University.
He came of age in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement and adopted the Chicano perspective, which promoted cultural pluralism and social justice for all members of U.S. society.
He maintained that perspective until the end of his life. Along with working for the city of Detroit in 1978 and co-founding his law firm, Torres Law Center, he held positions on several organizations, including the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Democratic Hispanic/Latino Caucus and Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development, Inc. He was also a founding member of the Hispanic and Armenian Bar Associations and was recognized by many for his contributions.
MSU held a special place in Torres’ heart. He remained an active alumnus and always made time to come to campus to speak with students and attend events held by the Julian Samora Research Institute. Torres’ legacy emphasizes grit, community and tenacity, and his stance against injustices will continue to be meaningful both to Spartans and the state of Michigan.