Chicano Movimiento Leader Corky Gonzales Died Today

"I must fight and win this struggle for my sons,
and they must know from me Who I am."

From "I am Joaquin/Yo soy Joaquin"

by Rodolfo Gonzales

There will be a public viewing for Corky Gonzales Wednesday April 13th, 2005 7-9pm at Escuela Tlatelolco
(2949 Federal Blvd.). The family will be present and will receive people.

For Immediate Release
Nita Gonzales (303) 964-8993
Rudy Gonzales (720) 435-2108

Rodolfo Corky Gonzales 1928 - 2005
On April 12, 2005 at 7:42 p.m., and more importantly on the last incandescent rays of the setting Sun in his beloved Colorado, Rodolfo Corky Gonzales began his journey to his relatives and ancestors.

With his loved ones at his bedside, this splendid and gilded Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather, Uncle, Warrior, and Chief embraced death with all the love and passion in which he danced with life. His historic effort will never be forgotten.

At this time, the family requests that people honor their privacy period.

A memorial celebrating his life is presently being planned.


And so - Rodolfo Gonzales, a political activist destined to take the lead, set the example, and inspire many people, chose his fight: "The Crusade For Justice". Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales was born in Denver on June 18, 1928 to Federico and Indalesia Gonzales. He was the youngest of four brothers and three sisters, Nattie, Beatrice, Tomas, Esperanza, Federico, Severino, and Arturo. Corky's mother died when he was two years old and his father never re-married, but managed somehow to keep the Gonzales family together. The senior Gonzales ruled his household with a firm hand, tempered with love.

The children grew up in the tough eastside barrio of Denver during the devastating Depression. Rodolfo said, "Though the Depression was devastating to so many, we, as children, were so poor that it (the Depression) was hardly noticed."

Corky's father had emigrated from Mexico to Colorado early in life and often spoke to Corky about the Mexican Revolution, Mexico’s history, and the pride of the Mexican people. Thus leaving little doubt in Corky's mind about his own identity - and possibly his destiny.

With the tremendous obstacles that faced Rodolfo from an early age, it is truly astonishing that he persevered in the Denver educational system to earn his high school Diploma at the age of 16. The accomplishment is magnified by the fact that from an early age, Rodolfo worked in the beet fields and at various other jobs that left little time for study. Corky attended many schools including schools in New Mexico as well as schools in Denver, Gilpin, Whittier, Lake, Baker, West, and finally Manual High School from which he graduated in 1944.

During his final year in high school and the subsequent summer, Corky worked hard to save money for a college education. With a keen interest in engineering, Corky entered the University of Denver, but after the first quarter realized that the financial cost was insurmountable. Rodolfo then pursued a career in Boxing. An outstanding amateur national champion Rodolfo became one of the best featherweight (125 lb) fighters in the world. Even though Ring Magazine ranked Corky number three in the world, he never got a justly deserved title shot.

In the mid-1960's, Rodolfo Gonzales founded an urban civil rights and cultural movement called the Crusade for Justice. Soon he became one of the central leaders in the Chicano movement and a strong proponent of Chicano nationalism. In the late sixties and early seventies, Corky Gonzales organized and supported high school walkouts, demonstrations against police brutality, and legal cases. He also organized mass demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

In 1968 Gonzales led a Chicano contingent in the Poor People's March on Washington, D.C. While there, he issued his "Plan of the Barrio" which called for better housing, education, barrio-owned businesses, and restitution of pueblo lands. He also proposed forming a Congress of Aztlan to achieve these goals.

One of the most important roles played by Gonzales was as an organizer of the Annual Chicano Youth Liberation Conference, an ambitious effort to create greater unity among Chicano youth. These Conferences brought together large numbers of Chicano youth from throughout the United States and provided them with opportunities to express their views on self-determination. The first conference in March 1969 produced a document, "EL PLAN ESPIRITUAL DE AZTLAN (THE SPIRITUAL PLAN OF AZTLAN)", which developed the concept of ethnic nationalism and self-determination in the struggle for Chicano liberation. The second Chicano Youth Conference in 1970 represented a further refinement in Corky Gonzales's efforts toward Chicano self-determination, the formation of the Colorado Raza Unida Party.

During this time Corky and his wife, Geraldine Romero Gonzales, raised a family of six daughters and two sons, Nita, mother of two children; Charlotte, mother of three; Gina, mother of three; Gale, mother of four; Rudy, father of one; Joaquin, father of three; Cindy, mother of two; and Valerie, mother of two. All their children remain in Denver and continue to carry on Corky's fight with his guidance. Corky is proud of his family, especially the twenty grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Recently celebrating his fifty-second wedding anniversary, Corky attributed the closeness and strength of his family to his beloved wife, Geraldine, who has been his most enthusiastic and ardent supporter.

In many ways, Corky Gonzales has greatly influenced the Chicano movement. His key to liberation for the Chicano community is to develop a strong power base with heavy reliance on nationalism among Chicanos. His contributions as a community organizer, youth leader, political activist, and civil rights advocate have helped to create a new spirit of Chicano unity.

Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales' life has been a collage of challenges that have been met and overcome. He has never wavered in his commitment to enhance the lives of his people in this country, to change what is not fair, what is not right. As long as there are injustices, double standards, racism, and apathy, Corky's dedication, loyalty, and love of the struggle against these diseases of society will serve as an inspiration for all people to act.

In his column in the Denver Post of January 6, 1988, Tom Gavin wrote,

"He’s grizzled now, and gray,
but he stands tall, Corky Gonzales does,
and taller still, Rodolfo "I am Joaquin" Gonzales.
The one was a pretty good boxer, the other is a leader of men."