UA professor & Chicano activist Roberto 'Cintli' Rodriguez lifeless at 69

Roberto Rodriguez, an award-winning Chicano activist, author, and professor of Mexican American Research on the College of Arizona, died Monday of coronary heart failure in Teotihuacan, Mexico. He was 69.

Rodriguez was a journalist, author, lecturer and beloved UA professor. He authored 4 books and quite a few essays, poems, and columns. Rodriguez was a champion of Mexican American Research courses in Arizona public colleges and was one of many solely UA school members to be arrested for protesting the Ethnic Research ban in 2010.

“He was heroic,” mentioned Patrisia Gonzales, Rodriguez’s colleague and spouse of 20 years. “He was somebody actually touched by future.”

Rodriguez was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and moved to Los Angeles as a toddler.

On project for Lowrider Journal in East Los Angeles in 1979, Rodriguez was taking pictures on Whittier Boulevard when he captured the assault of a person by LA County sheriff’s deputies. Within the midst of photographing, officers turned on Rodriguez. They beat him so badly he spent three days within the hospital, and when he was launched, they arrested him for assault with a lethal weapon and assault and battery on a peace officer.

Although the costs had been finally dropped, the assault galvanized Rodriguez, who devoted his life to combating brutality and writing about Chicano tradition. He filed a civil swimsuit towards Los Angeles County for violating his 1st Modification rights, and received. He co-founded a database of killings of Latinos by legislation enforcement.

“His spirit wouldn’t permit him to remain quiet on a problem the place he thought there was some fallacious taking place towards folks, particularly folks of coloration or anyone who could be brutalized for his or her variations,” mentioned Gonzales.

Gonzales and Rodriguez met in 1990 and labored collectively as affiliate professors on the College of Arizona after receiving their doctoral levels from the College of Wisconsin. Collectively, they co-authored “Column of the Americas,” a nationally syndicated column, along with quite a few different publications and a 2005 documentary on migration.

In 2010, Rodriguez was arrested in Tucson together with a gaggle of highschool and faculty college students for protesting HB2281, which prohibited public college districts from providing ethnic research courses.

“I at all times checked out SB1070 (a invoice that required legislation enforcement to find out a person’s immigration standing throughout a routine cease) as a solution to assault brown folks, and that was a legislation to deport the physique,” Rodriguez mentioned in an interview in 2014. “HB2281 was to deport the thoughts and spirit.”

Rodriguez was the recipient of a number of loss of life threats because of his work. 

“As a consequence of these loss of life threats I acquired on Thursday, which is the fourth time since I’ve been on the UA, I simply noticed my final instructing day final Thursday,” Rodriguez wrote in a message to Gonzales in 2019. “I’ll end out the semester instructing each of my courses on-line.”

Rodriguez would typically have interaction in debates with folks on the opposite finish of the political spectrum with an open thoughts, Gonzales remembers.

“He was somebody who was simply so brave, and that may make folks uncomfortable,” Gonzales mentioned.

On the College of Arizona, Rodriguez — recognized to his college students as Dr. Cintli, the Nahuatl phrase for “corn” — researched maíz and the way it created the inspiration of Mexican tradition.

“If you wish to know the place we come from, comply with the corn,” Rodriguez mentioned in an interview from 2022. “Persons are merely gente de maíz.”

In 2019, he organized the Maya Maíz Roots Convention on the college, inviting greater than 20 Mayan students to share their analysis along with his college students.

Gonzales remembers him as a sort, heat, deeply beloved instructor who beloved greater than something to be round his college students.

“Roberto’s affect is expansive – the breadth of his data is unmet. His analysis and position as a public mental created new paths, broke new floor. But it’s the work and dedication to his college students that makes this loss so large,” UA affiliate professor of Mexican American Research Michelle Téllez wrote in an e mail. “He created private relationships along with his college students and at all times demonstrated his willingness to go above and past for younger folks attempting to grasp themselves and their place in academia. He inspired and impressed numerous college students.”

For the final a number of years, Rodriguez had been residing in Mexico close to the Nice Pyramids in Teotihuacan, assembly with archaeologists, college students and lecturers, and persevering with to write down.

“Open up for your self and for others not simply your coronary heart, however your arts,” Rodriguez wrote in “Column of the Americas” in October 2001. “Sing, paint, write, dance or play an instrument. Your voice is your coronary heart. Don’t ever let or not it’s taken from you.”