Biography of Richard Rodriguez

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Richard Rodriguez was born on July 31, 1944, in San Francisco, California, to Mexican immigrants Leopoldo and Victoria Moran Rodriguez, the third of their four children. When Rodriguez was still a young child, the family moved to Sacramento, California, to a small house in a comfortable white neighborhood. "Optimism and ambition led them to a house (our home) many blocks from the Mexican side of town.… It never occurred to my parents that they couldn't live wherever they chose," writes Rodriguez in Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, his well-received 1981 autobiography. This first book placed him in the national spotlight but brought scorn from many supporters of affirmative action and bilingual education. Rodriguez's family was not well-to-do, but his father—a man with a third-grade education who ended up working as a dental technician after dreaming of a career as an engineer—and his mother somehow found the money to send their children to Catholic schools. Ultimately, Rodriguez, who could barely speak English when he started elementary school, finished his academic efforts as a Fulbright scholar in Renaissance literature with degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University. Perched on the edge of a brilliant career in academia, but uncomfortable with what he viewed as the unwarranted advantage given him by affirmative action, Rodriguez refused a number of teaching jobs at prestigious universities. He felt that receiving preference and assistance based on his classification as a minority was unfair to others. This dramatic decision, along with a number of anti-affirmative action essays published in the early to mid-1970s, made Rodriguez a somewhat notorious national figure. After leaving academia, Rodriguez spent the next six years writing the essays that comprise Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, aided for part of that time by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. Before being compiled into book...
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