Gilbert Gonzalez

Professor Emeritus Gilbert Gonzalez began his college studies at East Los Angeles Junior College and went on to California State College, Los Angeles to graduate with a B.A. in Sociology. He then joined the Peace Corps and trained at Columbia University for community development in Caracas, Venezuela. Two years of Peace Corps service in Venezuela and travel throughout South America sparked a deep interest the history of the ethnic Mexican community. He returned and entered the M.A. program in Latin American Studies at California State Los Angeles just as the Chicano Movement was growing. His interest in the history of the ethnic Mexican community coincided with Chicano Movement centered educational reforms, which shaped Professor Gonzalez’ research agenda. While a Master’s student he engaged in struggles to initiate the first Chicano Studies department in the nation at Cal State Los Angeles and he became one of the first chairs of the department. Upon earning his M.A. degree he enrolled at UCLA in the U.S. History doctoral program. Before talking his qualifying examinations he was hired as an Acting Assistant Professor in Comparative Culture Program at UCI in 1971. His seven books covered educational segregation; labor, unionization and community; the Mexican government’s attempts to shape Mexican immigrant labor movements; and the imperial centrality of the U.S. in creating a century of Mexican migration (co-authored with Raul Fernandez). After retirement, he completed an award-winning film on the Bracero guest worker program which was screened at festivals, on PB.S. and at international conferences.

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