"Alejandro Morales based his book on what his parents went through at the Simons Brickyard #3 and that is now the City of Commerce. He wrote a novel that starts in 1892 and he used Pasadena, CA and Simons Brickyard #3."- Nominator Raymond Ramirez, former member of Montebello Historical.
2014 Hispanic Heritage Month Local Heroes nominee
- Son of Mexican immigrants, was born in Montebello, California and grew up in Simons, the company town of the Simons Brick Yard #3, bordering Montebello. Earned his B.A. from California State University, Los Angeles, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Morales is a professor in the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine.
- Author of seven historical novels and three novellas, writing in both English and Spanish, which explore the Mexican American experience from Mexico to Southern California. His most recent novel, River of Angels, was published in 2013. His first two novels, written in Spanish, were the first to be published in Mexico by a Chicano writer.
- His historical novel, The Brick People, tells the story of the Mexican immigrants who came to work at Simons Brickyard #3 in Los Angeles during the early part of the 20th century. At one time it was the largest brickyard in the world, shipping as many as one million bricks each day. The bricks they made literally built L.A.and the surrounding Southern California area. Morales and his daughter wrote the script for the 2012 documentary based on his book.
- The documentary has now been shown in many universities and colleges, as well as Montebello High School, from where Professor Morales graduated in 1963. Morales currently mentors the Montebello students who are college bound.
- Winner of the 2007 Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara. The award recognizes Morales's contributions to Chicano/Latino literature and his accomplishments as a major American writer.The Leal organizer said of Morales "he is a true pioneer in Chicano literature and one of the most outstanding, powerful, and innovative writers on the Chicano experience."
- In 2013 the Stanford University Libraries acquired Morales's collection of original manuscripts, articles, research notes and professional papers. He is currently working on three projects: a new novel, a collection of short stories, and a book of poetry.