Luis Rodriguez and the Gift of Words

For Luis Javier Rodriguez, the pen is mightier than the sword. It's what ultimately saved him from being swept away by the drug and gang scene in Los Angeles.

Recently honored as poet laureate of Los Angeles, Rodriguez never thought he'd live to see the day where his literature and poetry would make its home at L.A.'s Central Library, a place he would often frequent when he was homeless. Rodriguez spent hours perusing the aisles and reading dozens of books written by authors he idolized. The library became his refuge and a place void of gunshots and violence.

When he was a juvenile in prison, Rodriguez channeled his experiences into words and later became a community activist and mentor for at-risk youth. While Rodriguez impacted the lives of many people, he struggled to keep his son from spiraling into a life he previously knew. But it was also through a shared love for words that his son was able to recover and find himself again.

During his career, Rodriguez has published countless memoirs and poetry collections such as "Always Running -- La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.," along with various other works of Chicano literature and poetry. Rodriguez also founded Tia Chucha's, a bookstore and cultural center in Sylmar that aims to amplify the voices of authors and poets in Los Angeles. It provides a safe place for at-risk youth to express themselves through words and steer clear from prison and gang life.

Reporter Jennifer Sabih visits Central Library and Tia Chucha's to find out how Rodriguez turned his life around and, in doing so, inspired the lives of many others.

Featuring Interviews With:

  • Luis Rodriguez, Poet Laureate, Los Angeles
  • Mayra Zaragoza, Young Warrior
  • Ramiro Rodriguez, Luis's son

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