By Leonard Rodriguez
This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 500 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics.

Jose Villarreal

Jose Villarreal was reared by his parents in migrant worker camps. He earned his B.A. in English at the University of California Berkeley. In 1959, he published “Pocho,” which first explored growing up in two cultures.

After 11 years, the novel exploded in the mainstream as Hispanics began to confront their struggles of assimilation. Further describing those struggles he wrote “Clemente Chacon” in 1984.

The story chronicles the sacrifices and conflicts Villarreal faced to get ahead and, at the book’s end, Chacon declares “ I am a Mexican and I am an American, and there is no reason in the world why I can’t be both.