East Side Stories: Journey towards Justice, Past and Present

East Side Stories: Journey towards Justice, Past and Present

Featuring: Joseph Rodriguez, Ruben Martinez, Jesse De La Cruz

Saturday, April 27th | 5PM – 6.30PM

Meet at The Studio, across the Park from Annenberg Space For Photography.

Let us know you are attending, by registering here.

Please note that seating is first come first served.

All talks are free and are open to all.

Join documentary photographer and educator Joseph Rodríguez, award-winning writer Ruben Martinez, and former gang member, heroin addict, criminal, renowned Court Qualified Gang expert, author, community activist and educator Dr. Jesse De La Cruz for a powerful educational discussion on gang violence, juvenile justice and re-entry into Los Angeles communities. Joseph Rodríguez and Ruben Martinez have documented stories like Jesse’s and many others, redefining their narratives in the public eye. They’ll discuss their own experiences, show visual work, and open it up to audience questions.

Make sure to also check out 1992-2017—East Side Stories Exhibition at Photoville LA.


Joseph Rodriguez was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He studied photography at the School of Visual Arts and later received an Associate of Applied Science degree from New York City Technical College. He worked in the graphic arts industry before deciding to continue studying photography. In 1985 he graduated with a Photojournalism and Documentary Diploma from the International Center of Photography in New York City.

He went on to work for Black Star photo agency and for various print and online news organizations like National Geographic, The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Newsweek, New York Magazine, Esquire, Stern, BBC News and New America Media. Advertising campaigns produced for Levi’s, AIG, Ikea.

He has received awards and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Artists’ Fellowship, USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism, the Open Society Institute Justice Media Fellowship and Katrina Media Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography, the Alicia Patterson Fellowship Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Konstnärsnämnden Stipendium. He has been awarded Pictures of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association and the University of Missouri, in 1990,1992,1996 and 2002.

He is the author of Spanish Harlem, part of the American Scene series, by the National Museum of American Art/ D.A.P., as well as East Side Stories: Gang Life in East Los Angeles; Juvenile, Flesh Life Sex in Mexico City, and Still Here: Stories After Katrina, powerHouse Books, Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the 80s, powerHouse Books.

Recent exhibitions include Aperture Gallery; Galerie Bene Taschen, Cologne, Germany; Reva and David Logan Gallery for Documentary Photography at the Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley, California; Bronx Documentary Center, New York City, NY; Gulf + Western Gallery, New York City; Hardhitta Gallery, Cologne, Germany; Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography, University of La Verne, California; Third Floor Gallery, Cardiff, Wales, UK; Institute for Public Knowledge, New York City; Moving Walls, Open Society Institute, New York City; and Cultural Memory Matters, 601 Artspace, New York City.

Joseph has been visiting artist at Stanford University, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, California, the University of La Verne, California; Columbia University, School of Journalism, New York City; University of Texas, Austin, School of Journalism; Ringling School of Art and Design, Florida; the University of Helsinki, Finland; Aarhus University, Denmark; Royal University of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Sweden; Loyola Marymount University, California; Hostos Community College, New York City; CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, New York City.

Dr. Jesse De La Cruz was raised in the barrios of California. At the age of 12, he began a journey that led him to join a neighborhood street gang, heroin addiction, prison and eventual membership into a violent prison gang. He served approximately 30 years in numerous California State Prisons from Soledad to San Quentin. After his final release from Folsom State Prison on April 2, 1996, Dr. De La Cruz committed himself to a residential drug treatment program in June 1996 and has been clean and sober ever since.

In the spring of 1997, Dr. De La Cruz enrolled in a community college. He had not attended school since his December 1968 expulsion from high school as a sophomore student. In 2001, he graduated with his Baccalaureate Degree in Sociology. From there he went on to obtain a Masters of Social Work Degree in 2003. After a seven-year hiatus, he returned to college and obtained the highest degree possible in his chosen field, an Educational Doctorate (Ed.D) at California State University, Stanislaus in 2014. His dissertation was a study of gang members titled: Mexican American/Chicanos Gang Members’ Voice on Social Control in the Context of School and Community: A Critical Ethnographic Case Study in the City of Stockton, CA.

In 2011, Dr. De La Cruz published his memoir Detoured: My Journey from Darkness to Light which chronicles his involvement in gangs, drugs and eventual incarceration. He has lectured students, teachers, and community leaders about his experiences with gangs, drugs, crime, and our immense judicial and prison system and gives possible solutions.

A natural storyteller, Dr. De La Cruz reveals during his presentations a deep and rich understanding of the causes and conditions that bring about gang involvement, criminal behavior, drug addiction and our nation’s huge incarceration problem.

Rubén Martínez is a writer, performer, and teacher. He holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature and Writing at Loyola Marymount University, and he is an artist-in-residence at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts.

He is the author of Desert America: A Journey Across Our Most Divided Landscape and Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, and other titles.

An Emmy Award-winning journalist, his essays, opinions and reportage have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Boom: A Journal of California, Salon, The Village Voice, The Nation, SPIN, Sojourners, and Mother Jones.

He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, the Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, a Freedom of Information Award from the ACLU and a Greater Press Club of Los Angeles Award of Excellence.