Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Transcript of interview with Thomas Rodriguez by Maribel Estrada Calderón, September 10, 2018






Known for “raising hell and making a difference” in the Las Vegas Valley, Thomas Rodriguez has dedicated more than four decades of his life to the political, educational, and social advancement of the Latinx community. Tom was born in 1940 to Jennie Gomez and Joseph Rodriguez in a Topeka, Kansas neighborhood its residents called The Bottoms. Mexicans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, African Americans, among other peoples lived in this diverse and beloved community. In 1956, the Urban Renewal Program, a program funded by the Federal Government that sought to raze neighborhoods the city considered to be “slums,” forced The Bottoms’ residents to abandon their homes. Rodriguez recalled the effects that this event had on his family and on his educational career. Despite his family’s relocation, he graduated from a high school located in a nearby neighborhood in 1958. Years later, the activism and ideology of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s taught Rodriguez that to overcome the injus

Digital ID


Physical Identifier



Rodriguez, Thomas Interview, 2018 September 10. OH-03476. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Digitized materials: physical originals can be viewed in Special Collections and Archives reading room



Geographic Coordinate

36.17497, -115.13722



AN INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS RODRIGUEZ An Oral History Conducted by Maribel Estrada Calderón Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Known for “raising hell and making a difference” in the Las Vegas Valley, Thomas Rodriguez has dedicated more than four decades of his life to the political, educational, and social advancement of the Latinx community. Tom was born in 1940 to Jennie Gomez and Joseph Rodriguez in a Topeka, Kansas neighborhood its residents called The Bottoms. Mexicans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, African Americans, among other peoples lived in this diverse and beloved community. In 1956, the Urban Renewal Program, a program funded by the Federal Government that sought to raze neighborhoods the city considered to be “slums,” forced The Bottoms’ residents to abandon their homes. Rodriguez recalled the effects that this event had on his family and on his educational career. Despite his family’s relocation, he graduated from a high school located in a nearby neighborhood in 1958. Years later, the activism and ideology of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s taught Rodriguez that to overcome the injustices that affected the Latinx community, he had to write in order to make his thoughts and opinions known. v In the 1970s, Rodriguez earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washburn University and a Master’s degree in public administration from Kansas University. In 1981, after being offered a position as the Director of Planning and Evaluation for the Las Vegas Clark County Consortium, he moved to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, Rodriguez crafted the ordinance that governs the television cable industry, and wrote grants to construct the League of United Latin American Citizens Multi-purpose senior center and produce the project, “A Portrait of Hispanics in Clark County, Nevada.” He also filed a civil rights employment discrimination suit against the Clark County School District. Rodriguez’ dedication to promoting education as a powerful tool that can be used to bring forth change within a community led him to co-found the Latino Youth Leadership Conference in 1993. The program’s purpose is to encourage young Latinas and Latinos to pursue a college education and to provide them with the opportunity to build and develop their leadership skills. Rodriguez recalled the initial reaction of a mother when she learned that the students who attended the three-day conference at the University of Nevada Las Vegas had to stay in the dormitories. Today, Latinx youth from across the Las Vegas Valley continue to gather at UNLV to participate in the Latino Youth Leadership Conference. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Thomas Rodriguez September 10, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Maribel Estrada Calderón Preface………………………………………………………………………………………..…..iv Talks about his parents and grandparents; how they migrated from Mexico to Topeka, Kansas; paternal grandparents worked on the Santa Fe Railroad; his parents settled in a neighborhood called The Bottoms. Describes how an urban development program displaced The Bottoms’ residents; memories of his experience at a Catholic high school………………………..…….1 – 2 Talks about moving to Las Vegas to work for the Las Vegas Clark County Consortium: he helped start a culinary program at the Community College of Southern Nevada at the Cheyenne Campus; describes his assessment of the Latinx community in Las Vegas; talks about his book, A Profile of Hispanics in Nevada………………………………………………………………………………….....3 – 4 Describes the Latino Youth Leadership Program; talks about his college experience; describes how he began to work SER Jobs for Progress…………………………………………………...…5 – 7 Talks about his involvement in the Chicano Movement and Hispanics in Politics; describes the lawsuit he filed against the Clark County School District for employment discrimination; talks about his involvement with the Latin Chamber of Commerce; describes the roles of LULAC………………………………………………………...……………………….….…8 – 17 Talks about a party that The Bottoms organized every year; Compares enchiladas from Topeka with Southwestern enchiladas; Talks about the cultural differences between Latin Americans; describes his project, “A Portrait of Hispanics in Clark County;” Talks about his writing projects……………………………………………………………………………………...18 – 21 Talks about raising a family in Las Vegas; Talks about the Rafael Rivera Community Center; describes the growth of Las Vegas………………………………………………………... 22 – 23 Speaks about future projects; PBS documentary……………………………………….......24 – 26 Talks about the initiatives that younger generations should take to make a difference in their community and nation…………………………………………………………………….…27 – 30 Further Readings…………………………………………………………………………………31 vii 1 Today is September 10th, 2018. My name is Maribel Estrada Calderón and I will be interviewing Thomas Rodriguez. Please say your name and spell it. Thomas Rodriguez. Thomas, T-H-O-M-A-S. Rodriguez, R-O-D-R-I-G-U-E-Z. How do you identify yourself, as Latinx? Latino. Now let's begin with your early childhood and your family history. Can you tell me more about where you're from and where you come from? I'm first generation. My parents were both born in Mexico. My father in Nochistlán, a little town in the State of Zacatecas. My mom was born in León, Guanajuato. They both immigrated to the United States as young children. They came to Kansas; Topeka, Kansas, the capital city. My dad's parents, my grandparents, came to work on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. I think my dad's family got there in 1913; my mom's came later in 1920. They settled in a place called The Bottoms, which was an ethnic neighborhood comprised of Mexicans, blacks, a few Native Americans, German Russians, and poor whites. It was later torn down by an urban renewal project. In fact, I just wrote a book about it a couple of years ago. CLAYTEE: What was the name of that one? It was called The Bottoms: A Place We Once Called Home. It was really kind of a photo book, too. We had about five hundred and eighty photographs in it. But I did a lot of research on the urban renewal program. I don't know if you guys are familiar with it. You're a little bit too young to remember those days. The urban renewal program was used to literally destroy low-income, high-crime neighborhoods. In Topeka's case, they did it with the idea of putting in a freeway through there, I-70. They displaced around twenty-five hundred families. We weren't told; we had no choice in the matter. CLAYTEE: That was a pattern across the country. Yes. As I researched the whole issue, for years and years, probably fifty years or more, I resented it; that we were thrown out of our neighborhood. But after doing so much research, I came to find out that we lived in a slum. Most houses had no inside restrooms; our house did, but my grandparents' did not. They had outhouses. A lot of places didn't even have outhouses. They had no running water. A lot of abandoned buildings, high crime. But it was a fantastic place to grow up in terms of ethnic diversity, racial diversity. How did your family deal with the urban development program? 2 They had no choice, as I said. It actually, in retrospect, historically proved to be a good thing because what it did was move people that were—living in a barrio is essentially what it was. It moved people, mainly blacks and Hispanics, out into the community because they had to find houses for everybody. It was a form of integration, I guess, if you look at it that way. BARBARA: How old were you when that actually happened? I think I was about sixteen, seventeen. BARBARA: So you were in high school. Yes. Like I said, I resented that for so many years. We did lose something. In fact, I'm getting ready to go back the first week in October to an annual reunion of that neighborhood. They call it The Bottoms Reunion. Everybody goes, mainly Hispanics and blacks and some German Russians. It's dwindling down. There's probably about a hundred and fifty show up every year now. Can you tell me more about your education experience in high school after moving to a new neighborhood? I went to an all-Latino Catholic school, Our Lady Guadalupe Grade School. I lived two blocks from a public school, but my parents were very religious, so we had to trek a mile and a half, over two bridges, rain or snow or shine, to go to Our Lady Guadalupe, a great school. Again, there was nothing there but Hispanics. I graduated from there and went to Hayden High School, which was an all-Catholic high school. My senior year I left there and went to Topeka High School and graduated from there. Then I went into the military and when I came out of there, I went to college and got a degree in psychology from Washburn University. A few years later I got my master's degree in public administration from Kansas University. A year or two after that I enrolled in the Ph.D. program in political science at KU. Then I moved here. At the time I moved here UNLV had one Ph.D., I think, and that was education. Now, of course, they have many...I would have had to have gone back and spent two years there, so I never finished my Ph.D. Why did you move to Las Vegas? I was at a conference in San Antonio and I ran into a friend of mine that was the director of the job training program here in the city of Las Vegas. It was a consortium between the city and the county. He offered me a job as director of planning and evaluation. I certainly wasn't going to leave. My father was not in good health at the time, and so I went back home. As it turned out, my father died in January. My mother had died two years earlier. In April I was gone; I was here in Las Vegas and I came to work. 3 It was the city-county employment training program, aging, all those programs. It was a great program because we covered half the state, literally. So I got to go to all these little—Gabbs, Nevada; Tonopah; White Pine County; Pioche and Panaca; and then we were always in Reno and Carson because of funding and everything. I literally got an all-expenses-paid trip through Nevada just with that job. BARBARA: Who was the friend that introduced you? A guy named Fred Ramirez. He passed away not long ago, about eight years ago. CLAYTEE: Tell me about the statistics for that program, how it was ranked when you got here and the work that you did. When I got here it was like fifty-two out of fifty-three programs in Region IX, and when I left we were number five, I think it was. We did a lot of things. I worked for the mayor in the city of Topeka before I left, kind of doing the same things only my job was called the private industry coordinator. I set up programs with private businesses. That was one of the emphasis when I came to Las Vegas; we started doing a lot of work and training. We started a culinary program at the Community College of Southern Nevada when it was out at the Cheyenne campus. We started on-the-job training with businesses where basically the agency paid half and the employer paid half. Just a lot of things like that. The program had a remarkable success. What was your assessment of the Hispanic community when you arrived in Las Vegas? Interestingly, when I arrived here I had gone to the Flamingo Library because we rented an apartment over here on Katie Street right by Maryland Parkway. That was still a nice area at that time. When I got here I went to the Flamingo Library, which is right up the block, and tried to find something on the Hispanics, and there was nothing, literally nothing. Then I tried to find things on the black community, and there was one little booklet called The McWilliams Township, just a little booklet. Then Native Americans, there were many books about Native Americans. But that was when I started thinking about writing the first book I wrote about Hispanics. Can you tell me more about that book? The book was titled A Profile of Hispanics in Nevada: An Agenda for Action. It was really a booklet. It was about a hundred pages long. But it totally was filled with statistics. It really got a great, great deal of attention. It was in all the newspapers. I was on all the news channels on the five o'clock, six o'clock and eleven o'clock news. I did interviews with the Reno Gazette and the newspaper in Elko and did some radio shows, television shows. At that time I don't think anyone really knew there were that many Hispanics living in Nevada. It's kind of funny in retrospect. At that time there were thirty-five thousand Latinos living in Las Vegas, or the estimates said, in the county. Today there's over seven hundred thousand. But in 1981...I actually wrote that book in 4 '84. It took me a year or two to research it. It really put the Latinos on the map because historians referred to the Latino community as the "invisible minority" and I certainly think my book helped to make it less invisible. But, yes, that book had everything. It basically covered education, lower and higher ed, employment, health and welfare, criminal justice, literally the whole gamut of the major problems facing the Hispanic community at that time, and, like I said, nobody knew this. People were literally shocked. They didn't think about it. It's something to think about, where people are perceived or not perceived, as being kind of invisible. That was my first book. I've written seven others since. How did you become involved with the community? I heard about Otto Merida, the long-time president of the Latin Chamber. In fact, he just retired after forty years. I had heard about him. They used to have an office down on Sixth off Charleston. I can't remember the street; Hoover I think it was. I went down to meet with him because I wanted to start researching this book about Hispanics. I went to meet him. He's one of those loud Cubans and he's screaming. I'm sitting in the office and he's screaming away at people. I'm like, damn, what the hell? Do I want to meet this guy? We've become really, really great friends. Yes, he was really interested in doing a book. The chamber ended up publishing that first book with help from the community and other people. At this time were you still working with the job that brought you to Las Vegas? Yes. I left that job in '86 and I went to work for the Clark County manager. I was the first Hispanic to ever work in that office. I went in as a senior management analyst. I was basically overseeing the emerging cable television industry. In fact, I wrote the county's first ordinance on cable television. I also helped manage the outlying justice courts and we set up new payment structures for them and everything else. Animal control—I got involved in everything—emergency management. I wrote most of the major speeches for the commissioners. I was there for, I think, three years. When did you become involved with education and the Clark County School District? I've always been involved in education in so many ways I can't tell you. I was chairman of the Latin Chamber's Scholarship Committee for eight years. We raised over 1.5 million in scholarships. I started the Latino Youth Leadership Conference that's here on campus every summer. I co-founded that with Dr. Maria Chairez. Obviously, when I went to work for the school district, I've worked for five superintendents. I've always been involved in education. Can you tell me more about the Latino Youth Leadership program? About late 1993, I did an analysis because I made a presentation to the Board of Regents on the effectiveness of our scholarship program; our, meaning the Latin Chamber of Commerce's scholarship program; it was called the Career Day Scholarship Program. At the time, we used to 5 give one thousand dollars if you were going to UNLV or UNR and five hundred dollars if you were going to CSN. There was no Nevada State at that time. I did a ten-year longitudinal analysis of it and basically found out that only about 22 percent of the students we had given scholarships to were still involved in college; most of them had dropped out. After that report I wanted to know why, so I contacted a bunch of them. Basically they were telling me they didn't feel welcome on campus. There weren't many Latinos on campus at that time. They had no support system, that they could see, and part of that I think was they didn't know how to access it. But the biggest thing was they just felt alienated. So I figured, well, what are we going to do about that? The scholarship isn't doing it. The whole concept of the scholarship was that you whet their appetite and they'll find a way to go to college, just like I did. That wasn't working. I contacted Dr. Maria Chairez, who also worked for the Clark County School District. We sat down over a period of a few months and just brainstormed what we were going to do with that program. In the summer of '94, we actually started it. My intent was based on something I used to do in Kansas with Latino students at the University of Kansas and something Maria Chairez did in California with the California Latino Youth Leadership. We tailored it basically to Las Vegas. We wanted to give students a history lesson in their culture. Most of them, even to this day, don't know what the Chicano Movement was. They had no idea. They don't know who some of these heroes were. We wanted to do that; give them information on their history. We wanted to teach them how to navigate the system, and we felt the best way to do that was to house them in the dorms. Of course, all of this took money and we had no money, so I was in charge of fundraising, too. I remember meeting with Bob Maxson, who was then president of UNLV. I went to meet with Bob and he just floored me. He said, "Tom, I really love this idea. I'm glad you brought it to me." Et cetera. "I've got seventy-five hundred dollars I can give you in my budget." Well, that was half the battle. I also contacted the Nevada Gaming Foundation. Mike O'Callaghan, the former governor, was one of the editors at the Las Vegas Sun. I contacted Mike. He was in charge of giving out the money for the Gaming Foundation, so we got a few thousand from him. I think McDonald's gave us some money. We ended up raising around thirteen thousand. We had that first group; I think there were thirty-two in that first class. The biggest problem we had with that first class was the mothers; they did not want their young daughters staying overnight in the dorms with male Hispanics. I remember getting chewed out in Spanish by this mother—"No, voy a dejar mi hija aqui [I won’t let my daughter stay here] trying to explain to her, this is all chaperoned; you're going to have adults there; I'm going to be there; I'll sleep in the dorms. Anyway, we got through that first one. But it was remarkable what happened and the 6 dynamics of what happened. It's been going on for twenty-five years now. We just had our twenty-fifth anniversary. I remember telling the students—this is something I really believe because we took great pains to set up that whole curriculum. The first conference, I think, was for three days and four nights. Now it goes for six days and nights. I remember telling the few students we had, I said, "You're not going to believe me, but when you leave here four days from now, you're going to be totally different people. You're going to think differently. You're going to view your future differently. You're going to be different people with purpose." At the last-night banquet we had, one young lady got up and said that in her own words, about how it had changed her life. I figured, wow, that's what it's all about. I stayed with that program for about six years. I think Maria stayed for around seven. I had always felt that if it was going to continue, the students had to make it happen and that's exactly what has happened. The students run the program, former students. We have lawyers, medical doctors, business people, I think five or four of the state assemblymen and women are former participants. Ruben Kihuen was in the third class. He's a congressman now. I still speak. I give the opening session every year and usually go to the last session. It's one of my legacies, really. Did you have any role models that inspired you to help others pursue their education? I'd have to say yes and no. I graduated from grade school with a class of about twenty-eight people. I was the only one to ever get a college degree. I was one of the few that even went to high school. A lot of those guys passed way many years ago from alcoholism and other things, gang affiliation, what have you. There were really no role models I knew. I keep telling this story to the students every year. When I went to college—I guess you could call it a college; it was called Washburn University, but it was a city university—there were about ten of us, Latinos, on campus in total. We had to form our own core support group. There were no role models for me when I wanted to go to school. I just knew that I was going to keep doing what I was doing. When I got out of the army, I got a job with DuPont. I was running an IBM machine scale there that weighed cellophane being made. Everybody thought, wow, that is a fantastic job. Well, at that plant there were three shifts and you had no choice; you shifted every week. One week you'd be eight to five, then the next week five to eleven, and then eleven to eight in the morning, which was good because at the time I was a pretty good golfer, so I got a lot of golf in. I stayed there about a year. They wanted to put me in management, and I said, "No, I'm going to go get a degree." I went to work for Hallmark Cards and stayed there nine months. Then I went to work for the state printer and stayed there about a year or two. Then I went to work for the Employment Service where I was an employment interviewer, and I did that until I graduated. 7 When I graduated I was one of those lucky people. When I was in the army, I was a company clerk. Do you guys remember the old M.A.S.H.? CLAYTEE: You were Radar? I was Radar, yes. I ran the company. My first sergeant was post boxing team manager, hockey team manager, and baseball manager. I ran the company. I was a Private E-1 out of basic. The civilian equivalent of a company clerk is employment interviewer, so I took that test. I worked for the Topeka Job Opportunity Center as an employment interviewer for a few years as I was going through college. Talk about having it made, because I had the GI Bill. They had offered me that job because no Hispanic had ever passed that state test for an employment interviewer except myself. I turned it down because they wouldn't let me go to school. Somehow that news got to the biggest boss, the governor appointee that ran that agency, and he called me up at home. So I went into meet with him, a guy named Leo Phalen. He asked me why I turned it down, and I said, "Well, I can't go to school. They won't let me go to school during work." He picks up the phone, calls the head of the Employment Job Service Center and says, "I've got Rodriguez in here and he's going to school and you're going to pay him a full salary." That's how I got through. Full salary, GI Bill on top of it, I had it made. To make a long story short, I did that job until I graduated from college—I graduated in May, so it was sometime in April—I had a friend call and ask me to apply for this new program. It was called SER Jobs for Progress. You know what ser is right? You don't know the word ser? That means to be. Anyway, SER Jobs for Progress; that's an acronym for Service Employment Redevelopment. It was the first Latino program grant ever given to the Latino community nationwide. It was an eighteen-million-dollar grant given by the Department of Labor to the Latino community and it was run by the American GI Forum and LULAC. Those two national organizations were the recipients of the grant, and the national SER office was in Los Angeles. There were forty-four initial directors all over the country. I was the first director from the state of Kansas. I applied for that job and got it, another one of those crazy, lucky things. Most of the kids I knew, were looking for jobs paying at that time, 1972, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen thousand; I started out at twenty-five thousand dollars a year. I literally had to start an agency from scratch. I had to go open bank accounts. I had to hire people, write job descriptions; start the whole thing. Very successful. I started another program a year later in Garden City, Kansas and in Wichita, Kansas and then one in Kansas City, Kansas. That was how I got into that whole other profession. I did that for three years and then I ended up going to work for the mayor in that private sector program I mentioned to you. 8 Earlier you mentioned the Chicano Movement. Can you tell me about your experiences during that time? Yes. Again, I think I was lucky to be around at that time and be in college at that time because Cesar Chavez, the farm worker thing was going on, you had the L.A. riots that were going on, and you had the student walkouts in L.A. that were going on. It was sort of that transition period from the old Latino way of life to the more modern Latino way of life. My grandparents and parents grew up very stifled. Topeka, Kansas is part of the Bible Belt. In my lifetime, we could not eat in most restaurants uptown, we could not swim in the public swimming pools, we were constantly being stopped by the police or called names by people. Even in a greasy spoon hamburger joint we had in that urban ghetto I lived in, it was run by a white man, and he had a sign up there, "Mexicans, Negroes and Indians only served in sacks," and you had to pick them up around back. That was the era we grew up in. Certainly my parents and grandparents lived very stifled lives. My generation, the Chicano Movement, we were the first to break that mold. I tell my kids about this. It was an emotional thing. It's sort of like finding out, hey, there's other people like me out there. We're in college and we raised a little bit of hell and we weren't going to be third-class citizens ever again. We knocked those doors that had stifled our parents and grandparents. CLAYTEE: Give me the years approximately that you would considered the Chicano Movement. I'd say from '65 into the mid-seventies. There was so much going on at the time, it was amazing. It was going on all over the country. Topeka, Kansas wasn't exactly the center of the Latino movement. In fact, I told you I was one of the forty-four executive directors nationwide they hired, we would travel everywhere. People were not used to seeing Latinos dressed up in suits in the Biltmore or the Hiltons or the Fairmont or any of those hotels. I got to travel all over this country: L.A., San Francisco, Milwaukee, Phoenix; all the cities where we had programs, we would have national conferences there. In talking to a lot of those guys, they'd say, "Rodriguez, they don't have Mexicans in Kansas, do they?" I'd say, "Yes, well, hell yes they do." I said, "Have you ever heard of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad? Well, I'm the Topeka part. We built that damn railroad." In talking to those guys, they were going through the same thing. We were all sort of the same age. We were in our early thirties and late twenties, some of us. We had all experienced a lot of the same things in different parts of the country, and so we'd sit down and talk about that. I'd say almost universally, all of us, we called ourselves Chicano; that's what we were. We were part of that movement. The best part of that movement, as I look back it, was the sense of pride it gave you and the understanding that education was the way out of poverty; that you could basically use, quote, 9 unquote, “The System” and make that system work for you, and I've been doing that my whole life. If you're able to write and write better than most, articulate better than most, then you're going to be able to do a lot of things. I've sued this university twice. I've sued the school district and the State Industrial Insurance System, the city, the county, and I've worked for most of them. Can you tell me more about your experience suing the school district and why you did it? In 1987, I was president of Hispanics In Politics and I filed a lawsuit against the Clark County School District for employment discrimination. At the time minorities in the school district meant one thing, blacks. And more power to them, but we wanted some of that pie. I think when I filed my lawsuit there were four hundred total Hispanics employed in the school district. Today there's well over four or five thousand, but then there were only four hundred, and I think only less than a hundred were teachers. I had been told about this because in 1981-82, there had been a committee formed by Hispanics. I had just gotten here, so this was already happening before I ever got here. They had a committee and I forget what they even called it, the committee to improve education or something. They had year-long, two-year long meetings with the school district. They ended up with a big report, about an inch thick. It was really well done, an excellent report. The school district, in turn, filed their own response to that committee report where they basically said, "Within five years we will have met all our affirmative action goals." I just kind of heard a little bit about that. I didn't know much about it, but other people that have been here longer than me did. That that was close to '86; somewhere in there, the year before I wrote my lawsuit. A guy came to me, in fact, it was John Lujan. He used to be the affirmative action officer here at UNLV for fifteen years or more. John came to me and said, "Tom, I really wish you'd look into the school district thing." By then I had written my first book. Actually, I think I had written two books by then. I said, "Well, John, I thought that committee settled the whole thing. I've read where the school district promised they were going to do everything the Hispanic Committee wanted." "Well," he said, "the school district has done nothing." Five years later. So I said, "Well, give me the data." About three or four weeks go by and he calls me up and he comes to my house and he hands me a stack of papers. I said, "Oh, hell." I said, "Okay, let me look through it." I looked through it and the data was overwhelming. It was just ridiculous. They had no Hispanic administrators and I think they had only one Hispanic principal. 10 I wrote the lawsuit and then I got the Latin Chamber to co-join the lawsuit with me. It went to the Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education, and they sent down people to investigate it. To make a long story short, we lost the battle and won the war. After probably about seven months, they ruled in favor of the school district that the school district had not discriminated because they only looked at one th