Who Was Rodolfo 'Corky' Gonzales? Today's Google Doodle Celebrates the Chicano Activist

The Google Doodle for today, October 1, honors Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, the late Mexican American activist who was among the leading figures of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.

On this day back in 1970, Gonzales and his family founded the Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de Estudios, becoming the first private school in the U.S. with a focus on Chicano/Mexican American cultural studies.

Nicknamed "Corky" for his vivacious personality, Gonzales was born on June 18, 1928, in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in a tough eastside barrio in the city during the Great Depression.

Despite working beet fields and other jobs during his early school years, he managed to graduate from high school early at the age of 16.

A strong supporter of Chicano nationalism, in the mid-1960s Gonzales founded the Crusade for Justice, an urban civil rights and cultural movement that provided the Chicago community with job training and other benefits and also protested against police brutality, racism and employment discrimination.

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, he also organized high school walkouts and mass demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

In 1968, Gonzales led a Chicano contingent in the Poor People's March in Washington, D.C., calling for better housing, education, barrio-owned businesses and the restitution of pueblo lands under his "Plan of the Barrio." He also proposed forming a Congress of Aztlan to carry out these goals.

Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales speaking in Colorado.
Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales speaking at the Colorado State Penitentiary during a Chicano conference. Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

He also worked with Cesar Chavez, a fellow Mexican American activist who led the farm labor movement and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) in 1965.

In 1969, he organized the first National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference to promote greater unity among Chicano youths across the country and encourage them to take pride in their heritage and join the cultural revolution.

Gonzales was also a boxer and pursued a career in boxing before devoting his life to civil rights activism. After graduating from high school, he entered the University of Denver with a keen interest in engineering.

But after realizing the overwhelming cost of his studies, he pursued boxing instead. Having competed as a featherweight fighter 75 times, the amateur boxer was a World Boxing Conference champion and he was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.

Gonzales was also a poet and his activism was reflected in his writing. His most notable poem, "Yo Soy Joaquín,'' describes a man who travels through history to experience life as different Spanish leaders, indigenous leaders from the Aztec homeland of Aztlán, a Mexican revolutionary and as a Chicano in the U.S.

He was given the Humanitarian Award from the state of Colorado in 1990 and passed away on April 12, 2005.

Signage at a Google office in California.
Signage at a Google office in Irvine, California, seen on October 23, 2020. Getty Images