Portrait of a Chicano luminary
A new generation of Hispanic youth calling themselves “Chicanos” arose in Arizona during the 1960s and 1970s to advocate for fair treatment of farmworkers, Latino student rights and other social issues. These young people were aggressive, outspoken and proud of their Mexican heritage.
Alfredo Gutierrez was directly involved in the struggles of that time. He participated in groups such as the Mexican American Student Organization, Valle del Sol, Chicanos por la Causa and the United Farm Workers.
Today, at 72 years old, Gutierrez is publishing a 300-page book titled To Sin against Hope. He says his new book, chronicling that sometimes tumultuous era and pre-statehood Arizona, is scheduled to be published in January or February of 2013.
“It’s not purely an autobiography,” he says, “I use my story and my family’s story to tell the history of Mexicans in the United States, immigration and border policies.”
Gutierrez recounts how his family arrived in the United States in the late 1800s. Some family members were deported once, and later, they were almost deported for a second time. They are now all citizens.
“The book has elements of autobiography in it. I mention [former Arizona governor] Raúl Castro and my participation in the early days of César Chávez,” he says.
Other highlights of Gutierrez’ life may also be mentioned. His activism led him to be elected to the state Senate when he was just 25 years old; eventually he became the Majority and Minority Leader. There were ASU campus demonstrations, a student walk-out at Phoenix Union High School, and strikes against Valley businesses and Arizona farms discriminating against Latino workers.
Gutierrez continues to be active in the immigrant rights movement of today. He commented to Latino Perspectives in 2007 that, “My own reactions to all the changes since we launched the Chicano Movement are an emotional cauldron of joy and sadness and so much in-between.”
To Sin Against Hope can be pre-ordered at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, and other bookstore outlets.