10 Year Anniversary of the "Making Peace" PBS-TV Series

Ten years ago, John Valadez directed a documentary film for Moira Productions called "Making Peace: Youth Struggling for Survival, Like Father, Like Son." This 30-minute film was part of the "Making Peace" series that included profiles of individuals from across the country who were making a significant impact on peace in our streets and in our country. The series aired nationally on PBS-TV.

I was fortunate to have been chosen as one of the "Making Peace" profiles. The series was also shown to more than 200 community meetings in 1997. In addition, my particular profile was shown in a couple of national peace summits during that time.

The film is available on VHS and DVD from Films for the Humanites and Sciences. Please consider buying it for your school, institution, juvenile facility, or program.

"Making Peace: Youth Struggling for Survival, Like Father, Like Son" deals with the work I did for many years mentoring, guiding, and assisting active Chicago gang members and other youth into more positive, imaginative, and healed lives. I helped start Youth Strugging for Survival in 1994 with 250 youth people and adults at the University of Illinois, Chicago. The organization is still active and doing healing work in Chicago and Aurora, Illinois, and the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Lakota Reservations.

The film also centers on my often rocky relationship with my oldest son, Ramiro Rodriguez, who will be 32 this year. Ramiro joined a Chicago gang when he was 15, which served as a catalyst for the writing of my memoir "Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA" (Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster). Unfortunately, he is presently serving a 28-year prison sentence for three counts of attempted murder in the State of Illinois.

Despite the bars and distance--Ramiro has already done ten years of this time--we have remained close. My son has left the gang life and he's trying to better his situation the best he can; he hopes to be paroled in four more years with time off his sentence for keeping things straight and honest so far.

Meanwhile, I recommend the use of this film with any groups working with gang and other troubled youth. There are no easy answers in this work. For many of us, it's dangerous and heartbreaking. But we continue to walk these streets often without pay or compensation. My experience in over 30 years of doing this is that real caring, honest dialogue, and an intense and broad social struggle for jobs, healthcare, spirituality, meaningful education, and authentic community is the key to address the violence, disaffection, and alienation of our youth.

Also I'm part of a national campaign to prevent gang violence and help youth in the Latino community called 2Cooltura . Please check this out and get more information on books, resources, organizations, and strategies to help bring peace and dignity to our families and streets.

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