Famed author Richard Rodriguez to lecture at CSUB

April 1, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu
Richard Rodriguez Lectures Photo

Immigration reform, cultural assimilation, and bilingual education are among our nation's most contentious issues. Those topics will come to life at California State University, Bakersfield as Richard Rodriguez, a son of Mexican immigrants, shares his personal experiences in a lecture about Hispanics in America.

Rodriguez will give the 22nd annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial lecture on Thursday, April 17 at 7 p.m. in the Doré Theatre.

"If the polls are right, immigration is one of the top three issues on voter's minds. Mr. Rodriguez's visit represents a unique opportunity to learn and to participate in the dialogue," said Christopher Meyers, executive director for the Kegley Institute. "He is a thoughtful observer who doesn't just fall back on the expected or the knee-jerk comment. For example, Rodriguez is skeptical of bilingual education and affirmative action."

Raised in Sacramento, Rodriguez attended Stanford University and spent two years in a religious studies program at Columbia University. He then studied English Renaissance literature at the Warburg Institute in London and was a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Mr. Rodriguez is one of the most highly regarded essayists and novelists in the country. He's won all the top writing awards," Meyers added. "The Kegley Lecture has featured some amazing speakers over the years and Rodriguez is among our most highly anticipated. From all accounts, he will change people's lives."

Most Americans probably recognize Rodriguez from his television appearances on PBS. For more than 10 years he has appeared as an essayist on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer." His televised essays on American life were honored in 1997 with a George Peabody Award.

As a journalist, Rodriguez worked for over two decades for the Pacific News Service in San Francisco, and has been a contributing editor for Harper's Magazine and the Sunday "Opinion" section of the Los Angeles Times.

His autobiography, "Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez," was both widely celebrated and criticized for its skepticism regarding bilingual education and affirmative action.

In 2002, Rodriguez published "Brown: The Last Discovery of America." In a series of essays with topics as varied as the cleaning of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and Broadway musicals, he undermines America's black and white notion of race and proposes the color brown for understanding the past and future of the Americas.

In addition to many awards for his writing, in 1993 Rodriguez was presented the Frankel Medal (now renamed The National Humanities Medal), the highest honor the federal government gives to recognize work done in the humanities.

Meyers anticipates the lecture to be thought provoking. "The associated questions of justice, fairness and social benefit are deeply connected to the Kegley Institute's primary mission," he said.

For more than 20 years, the Kegley Institute of Ethics has enhanced the quality of our community by stimulating thought and involvement in ethical issues. The Institute is widely viewed as the premier area resource on ethical issues.

The event, sponsored by Kern Schools Credit Union and Mercy Healthcare Bakersfield, is free and open to the public, with free parking after 6:00 p.m. Rodriguez will be autographing books after the lecture and books will be available for sale in the theatre.

Learn more about the Rodriguez lecture and the Kegley Institute of Ethics at www.csub.edu/kie or by contacting Meyers at (661) 654-3149.