Luis Rodriguez: East L.A. and the Los Angeles River

Luis Rodriguez is an award winning Chicano author of fourteen books in fiction, nonfiction and poetry, and an advocate for gang intervention. Born in El Paso, Texas, he moved to and grew up in Watts and East Los Angeles. He was involved in gangs at the age of 11, and by the age of 18, he had lost 25 friends to violence. Turning towards art and literature, he moved to Chicago and founded Tîa Chucha Press publishing social and political writing and poetry. He returned to Los Angeles and established the Tîa Chucha Cultural Center, a visual and performing arts center and bookstore in Sylmar.

In 1993, his memoir of gang life, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. was well received and has sold over 300,000 copies. It was produced as a stage play by Cornerstone Theater Company and presented to over 6,000 high school students. Luis Rodriguez actively participates in gang intervention by establishing organizations, holding workshops and speaking engagements, and testifying as a gang expert.


Growing up with the River
How and why communities define the river.


East Los Angeles
The river as borderline.


The River as a place to re-imagine.


A Chicano River
East LA's muralism takes over the banks of the LA River.


The Concrete River
A Poem by Luis Rodriguez.


A Gang's Life
The importance of mentoring in the inner cities.