Gonzales, Rodolfo 1928–2005

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Gonzales, Rodolfo 1928–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born June 18, 1928, in Denver, CO; died of renal and coronary distress April 12, 2005, in Denver, CO. Boxer, activist, and author. "Corky" Gonzales was a former professional boxer who became a prominent Chicano activist in the 1960s, as well as a poet of the "generation of Aztlan" school, which was centered around the idea of the American Southwest as a cultural touchstone for Chicano Americans. Growing up in a Denver barrio, he was a bright student who gained admission to the University of Denver, but had to quit college because of the cost. He found success, however, as a featherweight prizefighter. Gonzales competed from 1947 to 1955; he won most of his fights and was eventually inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. After retiring from boxing, he became a businessman and operated a tavern called Corky's Corner. A few years later, he got involved in politics, initially supporting the Democratic Party, for which he organized Colorado's Viva Kennedy campaign. After a while, Gonzales became convinced that the Democrats were not doing enough for Chicanos like himself, so he founded the Crusade for Justice, an organization that worked to help poor Mexican Americans, especially in the area of education. He also published the newspaper El Gallo. Regarding his efforts to encourage education, he founded the Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de Estudios in 1970, which serves as a center for education and health care. He also actively protested against war, police brutality, and inadequate housing. These political and social concerns became a part of Gonzales's poetry, which critics have categorized with the work of other writers who employ myths about an Aztec homeland to express ideas of Chicano self-esteem and independence. His most famous poem was published in 1967's I Am Joaquin/Yo Soy Joaquin: An Epic Poem. He also wrote plays, including The Revolutionist and A Cross for Maclovio. After the 1960s, when Gonzales's protests often made the news, the poet and activist began to fall into obscurity. A heart attack and resulting car accident in 1978 also severely limited both his writing and political activities. However, he remained a beloved role model and supporter for many Chicanos throughout the rest of his life.



Denver Post, April 13, 2005, p. A1.

Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2005, p. B8.

New York Times, April 16, 2005, p. A13.

Washington Post, April 16, 2005, p. B7.

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Gonzales, Rodolfo 1928–2005

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Gonzales, Rodolfo 1928–2005