Eastern Kentucky University students and others will have the opportunity to hear from two pillars of civil rights activism on Thursday, Sept. 27, when Bobby Lee Verdugo and Yoli Rios give the Hispanic Heritage Month Keynote Address.
Their lecture, “The LA School Walkouts: Reflections on the Past 50 Years of Protest and Progress,” is also part of the University’s year-long Chautauqua series, “Truths and Consequences.” Free and open to the public, the address begins at 7:30 p.m. in O’Donnell Hall in the Whitlock Building.
The couple were key organizers of the East L.A. Chicano Walkouts in March 1968, which spurred further protest of the educational discrimination that oppressed the Chicano community. In 1960s Los Angeles, where Verdugo and Rios grew up, Latinos and Chicanos were not encouraged to further their education and often faced discrimination. In response, the couple, who had just begun dating at the time, led a walkout among five high schools in East L.A. Their protest brought about educational and policy improvements and increased Chicano enrollment at UCLA.
Verdugo and Rios later married. The couple now devotes must of their time to civil rights activism, educational reform and social progress. Verdugo has focused his efforts especially on building minority families, having served as senior education/la educación specialist with the National Compadres Network, a national advisory board member for the Johns Hopkins University Native American Fatherhood Project, president of the Board of Directors of the National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families, a member of the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement’s National Hispanic/Latino Forum, and a board member of the Center for Family Policy and Practice.
Verdugo has played an especially vital role within the Latino community at EKU. He travels to Kentucky often to mentor students in the Latino Leadership and College Experience Camp, which helps Latino students transition from high school to college and understand the diversity of their heritage. In his honor, the EKU Department of Languages, Cultures and Humanities recently opened the Bobby Verdugo Bilingual Peer Mentoring and Tutoring Center in McCreary Hall.
The lecture is sponsored by the College of Letters, Arts, & Social Sciences; the Department of Languages, Cultures and Humanities; the Office of Diversity; the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work; and the Honors Program.