Acclaimed journalist and poet Luis J. Rodríguez, who chronicled his harrowing journey from gang member to a revered figure of Chicano literature, discusses the struggles of post-gang life with Father Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries and author of a bestselling memoir.
Luis J. Rodríguez, the son of Mexican immigrants, began writing in his early teens and has won national recognition as a poet, journalist, fiction writer, children's book writer, and critic. His memoir, Always Running La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. earned a Carl Sandburg Literary Award, was designated a New York Times Notable Book and has been named by the American Library Association as one of the nation's 100 most censored books. Rodriguez co-founded Tia Chucha Press and Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore, a cultural center in Northeast San Fernando Valley. He is currently working as a peacemaker among gangs on a national and international level.
Father Gregory Boyle was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1982. Since 1986, Father Gregory has been the pastor of Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights, sited between two large public housing projects. In 1988, Father Gregory began what would become Homeboy Industries, now located in downtown Los Angeles. Since Father Greg started Homeboy Industries nearly twenty years ago, it has served members of more than half of the gangs in Los Angeles. Fr. Greg is the recipient of numerous awards, including the California Peace Prize, the Irvine Leadership Award and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Occidental College. His bestselling memoir, Tattoos on the Heart, has been honored by PEN USA as the 2011 Best Creative Nonfiction Book of the Year.