The political and social impact that Albert A. Peña Jr. had on the lives of Mexican Americans, and later Chicanos, is by all counts immeasurable. However, in part because Chicano biography has traditionally been a neglected research area among academics generally and Chicano Studies scholars specifically, his life’s work has not featured prominently in any biographical work to date, making this volume the first of its kind. It provides a richly detailed documentation of Peña’s life and career, from blue collar worker to judge and essay writer, spanning nearly ninety years. Readers will find that at the heart of his story is a focus on grassroots organizing and politics, sharing leadership, and a commitment to social justice.
Foreword, by Rubén Martinez
Part 1. Family and Formation
Chapter 1. The Family and Young Albert Jr.
Chapter 2. Peña, the Sailor Man
Chapter 3. Peña Jr., the Lawyer
Part 2. The Making of a Political Leader
Chapter 4. First School Desegregation Cases
Chapter 5. Barrio Presidential Politics
Chapter 6. El Comisionado, Our Man Downtown
Chapter 7. The Commissioner Years, 1957–1960
Part 3. Chicano Nation-Building
Chapter 8. Viva Kennedy Clubs
Chapter 9. PASO and Cristal’s Los Cinco Candidatos
Chapter 10. The Commissioner Years, 1965–1972
Chapter 11. MALDEF: Peña’s or Tijerina’s?
Chapter 12. Loss of Power
Chapter 13. Politics of the Palace
Part 4. Second Career
Chapter 14. All Rise! Judge Peña Presiding
Chapter 15. The End of Public Life
Chapter 16. Who Caused the Injury or Assault?
Part 5. The Final Years
Chapter 17. Second Retirement
Appendix 1. In Memoriam
Appendix 2. Note on County Government
“In a time when Mexican Americans are facing renewed challenges in America, José Angel Gutiérrez brings us a reminder of the difficult road that they have already traveled. Gutiérrez’s biography of Albert A. Peña Jr. not only offers a valuable history of the Chicano Movement but also reveals the personal story of one its central leaders. Engaging and thoughtful, the book provides an important addition to the literatures on Latino politics and the fight for civil rights in America in the latter half of the twentieth century.”
—Rogelio Sáenz, Dean of the College of Public Policy and Mark G. Yudof Endowed Chair, University of Texas at San Antonio
- 2018 International Latino Book Awards—Best Biography
- 2018 CHOICE Magazine Outstanding Academic Title