Essays Written By Rodriguez For Pbs

Richard Rodriguez, "Aria"

Richard Rodriguez (1944- ) was born in San Francisco and earned a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph. D from the University of California, Berkeley. He has worked as an essayist, college lecturer, editor, and broadcast journalist. Rodriguez has written a controversial and influential trilogy of memoirs about American public life: Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982), Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father (1992), and Brown: An Erotic History of the Americas (2002). His views, especially those against affirmative action and bilingual education, have been the focus of much lively debate over the past two decades. He has published numerous articles and essays in periodicals such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic. Rodriguez's many awards and honors include a Peabody Award in 1997 for his work on the PBS program NewsHour and the Frankel Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This essay was first published in 1981 in The American Scholar, and reprinted in a slightly different form in Hunger of Memory.

For other people named Richard Rodriguez, see Richard Rodriguez (disambiguation).

Richard Rodriguez

Rodriguez at the 2014 National Book Festival

Born(1944-07-31) July 31, 1944 (age 73)
San Francisco, California
ResidenceSan Francisco, California
EducationChristian Brothers High School (Sacramento, California)
Sacred Heart School in Sacramento
Alma materStanford University, B.A. in English, 1967
Columbia UniversityM.A. in philosophy, 1969
University of California, Berkeley, graduate study in English Renaissance literature 1969–72
Warburg Institute, London, dissertation research, 1972–73
AgentGeorges Borchardt, Inc., 136 East 57th St., New York, NY 10022
Known foropposition to bilingual education and affirmative action
Notable workHunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (autobiography), David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 1982.
Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father (autobiography), Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 1992.
Brown: The Last Discovery of America, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
Home townSacramento, California
TelevisionPBS Newshour
Parent(s)Leopoldo Rodriguez
Victoria Moran Rodriguez
AwardsFulbright Fellowship, 1972-73
-National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1976-77, and Frankel Medal
-Commonwealth Club gold medal, 1982
-Christopher Award, 1982, for Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez
-Anisfield-Wolf Award for Race Relations, 1982
-George Foster Peabody Award, 1997, for work on the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour
-International Journalism Award, 1990, from World Affairs Council of California.
-Emmy Award, 1992


Richard Rodriguez (born July 31, 1944) is an American writer who became famous as the author of Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982), a narrative about his intellectual development.

Early life[edit]

He was born on July 31, 1944, into a Mexican immigrant family in San Francisco, California. Rodriguez spoke Spanish until he went to a Catholic school at 6. As a youth in Sacramento, California, he delivered newspapers and worked as a gardener. He graduated from Sacramento's Christian Brothers High School.


Rodriguez received a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. from Columbia University, was a Ph.D. candidate in English Renaissance literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and attended the Warburg Institute in London on a Fulbright fellowship.[1] A noted prose stylist, Rodriguez has worked as a teacher, international journalist, and educational consultant, and he has appeared regularly on the Public Broadcasting Service show, NewsHour.[7] Rodriguez's visual essays, ''Richard Rodriguez Essays, on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" earned Rodriguez a Peabody Award in 1997. Rodriguez’s books include Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez(1982), a collection of autobiographical essays; Mexico's Children (1990); Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father (1992), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; Brown: The Last Discovery of America (2002); and Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography (2013). Rodriguez's works have also been published inHarper's Magazine,Mother Jones, andTime.[8]

Instead of pursuing a career in academia, Rodriguez suddenly decided to write freelance and take other temporary jobs. His first book, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, was published in 1982. It was an account of his journey from being a "socially disadvantaged child" to becoming a fully assimilated American, from the Spanish-speaking world of his family to the wider, presumably freer, public world of English. However, the journey was not without costs: his American identity was achieved only after a painful separation from his past, his family, and his culture. "Americans like to talk about the importance of family values," said Rodriguez. "But America isn't a country of family values; Mexico is a country of family values. This is a country of people who leave home."

While the book received widespread critical acclaim and won several literary awards, it also stirred resentment because of Rodriguez's strong stands against bilingual education and affirmative action. Some Mexican Americans called him pocho, Americanized Mexican, accusing him of betraying himself and his people. Others called him a "coconut," brown on the outside, but white on the inside. He calls himself "a comic victim of two cultures."[5]

Rodriguez's most recent book, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography (2013), explores the important symbolism of the desert in Judaism, Islam, Christianity. In an interview before the book came out, Rodriguez reported that he was "interested in the fact that three great monotheistic religions were experienced within this ecology."[9] A sample of the project appeared in Harper's Magazine (January 2008). In this essay, "The God of the Desert: Jerusalem and the Ecology of Monotheism,"[10] Rodriguez portrays the desert as a paradoxical temple, its emptiness the requisite for God's elusive presence.

Personal life[edit]

Rodriguez is openly gay.[5] He came out in his book of essays Days of Obligation.[11]


  1. ^ ab"Richard Rodriguez". Dictionary of Hispanic Biography(fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Gale. November 6, 1996. GALE|K1611000359. Retrieved 2012-01-05.  Gale Biography In Context.
  2. ^"Richard Rodriguez". Contemporary Authors Online(fee, via Fairfax County Public Schools). Detroit: Gale. 2003. GALE|H1000084032. Retrieved 2012-01-05.  Gale Biography In Context.
  3. ^"Participants". 64th Annual Conference on World Affairs. CU-Boulder. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  4. ^Louise Steinman, Charles C. Mann, Richard Rodriguez (2011). World History - "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created" - Book TV. Event occurs at 11:32.  Interview first broadcast Sun October 2, 2011. Duration 01:13:32.
  5. ^ abcLondon, Scott (August 1997), "A View From the Melting Pot: An Interview with Richard Rodriguez", The Sun, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, no. 260, retrieved 2012-01-06  Originally titled Crossing Borders - An Interview With Richard Rodriguez.
  6. ^PBS Newshour interview dated November 7, 2013
  7. ^"NewsHour Essayists". PBS. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  8. ^Wyrick, Jean; Slaughter, Beverly J. (1999). The Rinehart Reader (third ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. pp. 309, 586. ISBN 0-15-505512-7.  (Thomson Heinle)
  9. ^Rodriguez, Richard, "The God of the Desert" in The Best American Essays 2009, Ed. Mary Oliver (Mariner: Boston, 2009), 157
  10. ^Rodriguez, Richard (2008-01-01). "The god of the desert". Harper's Magazine. ISSN 0017-789X. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  11. ^Rodriguez, Richard (October 19, 1998), "My heterosexual dilemma",, retrieved 2007-10-26 

Further reading[edit]

  • America, May 22, 1982, pp. 403–404; September 23, 1995, p. 8.
  • The Americas, fall-winter, 1988, pp. 75–90.
  • American Scholar, spring, 1983, pp. 278–285, winter, 1994, p. 145.
  • Booklist, March 1, 2002, Bill Ott, review of Brown: The Last Discovery of America, p. 1184.
  • Christian Science Monitor Monthly, March 12, 1982, pp. B1, B3.
  • Commentary, July 1982, pp. 82–84.
  • Diacritics, fall, 1985, pp. 25–34.
  • Melus, spring, 1987, pp. 3–15.
  • The New York Times Book Review, November 22, 1992, p. 42; April 7, 2002, Anthony Walton, "Greater than All the Parts, " p. 7.
  • Reason, August–September 1994, p. 35.
  • Time, January 25, 1993, p. 70.
  • Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), December 13, 1992, p. 1.
  • The Washington Post Book World, November 15, 1992, p. 3.*
  • Pérez Firmat, Gustavo. Tongue Ties: Logo-Eroticism in Anglo-Hispanic Literature. Palgrave, 2003.

External links[edit]


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