Listen-and-Read-Along MY HERO Stories - for ESL

Felix Elizalde

by Alexandra from Newark

Felix Elizalde (Photo Courtesy of Elizalde Family) (
Felix Elizalde (Photo Courtesy of Elizalde Family) (

My grandpa, Felix Elizalde, was one of the greatest men to ever live. Besides being there for his family, my grandpa was a part of the Chicano civil rights movement and also promoted the accessibility of higher education to Latino students. My grandpa's background made him into the person that he is; he came from a family who lived below the poverty line. The events of hardship shaped him into the leader that he is.

Felix Elizalde was born in Stockton, California in the early 1940s. His parents were both immigrants from Mexico. My grandpa's mom died when he was a child and he was mainly raised by his father. His father, Florentino Elizalde, barely spoke English and worked whatever job could get. My grandpa gave up his hope of going to college after high school and decided to work by picking produce. When he moved with his dad from South Dakota to California, he decided to join the Navy and was placed on a small boat filled with other minorities to help fight the Korean War. Afterwards, he was introduced to the hope of going to college. He ended up going to San Jose State and majored in journalism. That's where he met my grandma and they soon had my uncles and my mom. During this time, my grandpa stayed true to his roots and helped bring an educated mind to the Latino rights movement and even worked alongside Cesar Chavez by advocating for the importance of education.

Through the use of his journalism major, Felix began working in public relations. He focused more on listening to the personal needs of others rather than actual journalism. That's when he started to get into the Castro Valley Education Board. He would participate in the board meetings by discussing the needs of low-income families, especially those who are Latino. His efforts were recognized and he worked his way up to the Alameda County Board of Education.

The Alameda County Board of Education gave my grandpa the spotlight that he wanted. He selflessly used his spotlight to advocate for the helping of Latino families in need of financial support. Besides being a teacher in schools and colleges, he promoted scholarship funds and even started his own called the Felix Elizalde La Raza Education Fund, which requires a Latino student who wants to major in journalism/communications to apply. 

This photo represents my grandpa's background
This photo represents my grandpa's background

Although his work was outstanding, my grandpa was going through hardships of his own. Since my birth, my grandpa had been battling lymphoma and was only expected to live a couple of years, but miraculously lived for 15+ years. He constantly was going through chemotherapy, yet always kept a smile on his face. He is my hero because of all the selfless work he's done for those in need, for my family, and for always being brave while battling cancer. He unfortunately passed away in 2010, but it's an honor to say that Felix Elizalde is my grandfather.

Page created on 5/3/2017 11:57:06 AM

Last edited 10/17/2019 8:00:20 PM

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Related Links

Chicano Civil Rights Movement - Library of Congress
SF Gate - Felix Elizalde, longtime East Bay teacher, dies
El Tecolote - Felix Elizalde: A fighter for education and Latinos in media passes away
El Reportero - California legislators honor Felix Elizalde