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Leelarathna (Hassina and Deeptha) Photograph Collection
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Hassina and Deeptha Leelarathna founded the first Sri Lankan newspaper in the United States. Founded in 1978, the paper, Sri Lankan Express, served as a voice for the Sri Lankan diaspora, and reported on everything from the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka to the issues being faced by the Sri Lankan communities in the U.S. Committed to serving their community, the pair also hosted a weekly two-hour radio program in Sinhalese and English titled Tharanga. After Deeptha's death in 2006, Hassina continued to run the newspaper until her death in 2021. The collection features color slides of images from the Leelarathnas' personal lives, before and after the start of the newspaper, as well as images documenting their travels and reporting in Sri Lanka from 1977 to 1985.
Hassina Leelarathna was born June 22, 1948 in Colombo, Sri Lanka as Hassina Gnei Sourjah. After graduating with her Bachelor's degree from the University of Peradeniya, Hassina quickly began to turn heads in the world of journalism. Hassina worked her way up as a female journalist during a time in which the field was very male-dominated. After she met and began dating Dolamulla Gamage Deeptha Leelarathna, Deeptha was offered a fellowship at Stanford University in 1976. The pair eventually got married and moved to Palo Alto, California in the late 1970s. They later moved to the San Fernando Valley. Once in the U.S., Deeptha and Hassina started their newspaper, Sri Lankan Express, as well as a bilingual radio program titled Tharanga. The newspaper is the first Sri Lankan newspaper in the United States, and it reported on such important issues as the civil war in Sri Lanka and the 2004 tsunami that impacted much of South and Southeast Asia. In addition to covering stories abroad, they reported on issues in the U.S. on such topics as Sri Lankan gangs and corruption within the Sri Lankan Consul General's Office in Los Angeles. On their radio broadcast, they featured many famous Sri Lankan musicians, such as Nanda Malini and W.D. Amaradeva. Deeptha and Hassina Leelarathna were dedicated to the Los Angeles Sri Lankan community, and worked full-time jobs in addition to running these programs. Hassina most recently worked as a financial analyst for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
0.5 linear feet
Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. Copyright status for materials in this collection is unknown.
This collection is open for research use.