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Bobby Verdugo and Yoli Rios

Bobby Verdugo and Yoli Rios

Thursday, September 27, 2018
"The LA School Walkouts: Reflections on 50 Years of Protest and Progress"
Hispanic Heritage Keynote Address

Bobby Lee Verdugo and Yoli Rios were key organizers of the East L.A. Chicano Walkouts at 5 high schools in East Los Angeles that began on March 8, 1968 and spurred an education rights movement in protest to the discrimination and oppression that confronted the Chicano community. The couple, who began dating at the time of the Walkouts, went on to get married and to devote much of their lives and energies to civil rights activism, educational reform and social progress. 2018 has proved a banner year of celebration and commemoration for the couple, who have been in high demand around the country speaking and discussing their work on the 50th anniversary of the historic Walkouts. In March 2018, they participated in a special 50th anniversary commemoration at the California State Capitol. As a sign of his continuing commitment to the cause, in July 2018 Bobby Verdugo was named Volunteer of the Year by the Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Project of California, with which he has been involved for over a decade.

Hailing from Lincoln Heights, California, Verdugo and Rios grew up in East Los Angeles in the 1960’s,Bobby Verdugo and Yoli Rios a time period where Latinos and Chicanos were not encouraged to continue their education and were often discriminated against. The two were leaders of the historic 1968 high school walkouts of East Los Angeles, a student-led effort to bring education reform to the disenfranchised schools on the Eastside. In addition to educational and policy improvements, the walkouts brought about a remarkable increase in Chicano enrollment at UCLA, from only 40 students in 1967, to 1,200 students in 1969. Verdugo and Rios were portrayed in the HBO docudrama, Walkout, about these events. Verdugo is also featured in the critically acclaimed PBS documentary, CHICANO –The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.

Mr. Verdugo is Senior Education/La Educación Specialist with the National Compadres Network, where he encourages and supports the positive involvement of Latino males as fathers, sons, grandfathers, brothers, compadres, partners, and mentors in their families and community. After 1968, he continued to advocate on behalf of the Latino community nationwide. He has also served as a National Advisory Board Member for the Johns Hopkins University Native American Fatherhood Project, as President of the Board of Directors of the National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families, as a Member of the US Office of Child Support Enforcement’s National Hispanic/Latino Forum and as a Board Member of the Center for Family Policy and Practice.

Often traveling to Kentucky, Bobby Verdugo mentors and inspires students in the Latino Leadership and College Experience Camp, a camp sponsored with a partnership between Bluegrass Community and Technical College and EKU that helps young Latino high school students transition to college and learn about the diversity of Latino heritage. Mr. Verdugo encourages students to continue their education and advocacy by sharing the message that the work of his generation lives on in them. Recently, the EKU Department of Languages, Cultures and Humanities opened the Bobby Verdugo Bilingual Peer Mentoring and Tutoring Center in McCreary Hall in honor of Bobby Verdugo’s work and influence.

Bobby Verdugo and Yoli Rios are the proud parents of two daughters, Monica and Maricela.

Sponsored by the College of Letters, Arts and 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


Published on September 27, 2018

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