May 21, 2021 - News

The legacy of Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales lives on

A photo of Corky Gonzales at a rally in Denver in 1971.

Corky Gonzales at a rally at the state Capital in Denver in 1971. Photo: Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver boxer-turned-Chicano-civil-rights-leader Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales may have passed in 2005, but his spirit — and mission — endures through his family, who have dedicated their lives to carrying on his legacy.

Why it matters: There's power in numbers, and the family is in a position to make a bigger difference than him alone.

First up is Rudy Gonzales, Corky's son:

  • Rudy heads Servicios de la Raza, a social services and Latino advocacy nonprofit in Denver that has grown to be the largest in the state, he told Alayna.
  • He describes his family as the "Chicano version of the Kennedys without the money," whose purpose is "pushing the needle forward on the battlefronts of equity, justice and peace."

Next is Nita Gonzales, Corky's daughter:

  • Nita is a community organizer and educator who played a pivotal role in establishing the state's COVID-19 Health Equity Team to close disparities and ensure people of color and low-income communities were prioritized.

Then there’s state Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, his granddaughter:

  • She helped pass a bill requiring civics and history classes to include education on minority communities and also was a prime sponsor of the police accountability bill last year after the murder of George Floyd.
  • "Fifty-two years ago during the West High School Blowouts, students were beaten with batons and tear gassed by the Denver police. And here we are today, still fighting against police brutality," she told Axios. "Every step of the way, I thought about my grandpa."

And last but not least is Sergio Gonzales, his grandson:

  • He heads the Immigration Hub, a Washington-based group advocating for inclusive immigration policies.
  • Sergio also served as a senior advisor on immigration to then-U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.

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