February 3rd, 2005: Alberto Gonzales becomes 80th (& first Hispanic)
Before he became the 80th attorney-general, Alberto Gonzales was a White House Counsel, an Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and Secretary of State of Texas. He started his college education at the rigorous Air Force Academy where he made the Dean’s list every semester before transferring to Rice University. He received his juris doctorate from Harvard Law School and he made partner at Vinson & Elkins, the country’s top energy law firm.
But before all these things, Alberto Gonzales was the second of eight children born to a migrant worker cum construction laborer and a homemaker growing up in the town of Humble, a predominantly white oil town in Texas. His father left school in the second grade, his mother in the sixth. Three of his grandparents may have been illegal immigrants and his family lived in a two bedroom home that Gonzales’ father built with his brother. The tiny home lacked telephones and hot water but despite these humble circumstances Gonzales rose to the highest executive office to be held by a Hispanic in the United States.
In a very real sense, Alberto Gonzales embodies the classic up-by-your-bootstrap American Dream story. In excelling against a background of privation, Alberto Gonzales exemplifies the fruit of resilience.