SAN ANGELO, Texas — Research on Mexican-American Studies has developed over the past 50 years. One of the pioneers in the field, Dr. Arnoldo De Leon, taught history at Angelo State University.

Dr. Arnoldo De Leon, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at Angelo State University, was born in Robstown, Texas.

De Leon joined the Air Force in 1963 and was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, then attended Angelo State University and graduated with a degree in history.

After receiving his Master’s and PhD from Texas Christian University in the 1970s, De Leon began to teach at ASU. It was during this time that he knew he wanted to contribute to the Chicano Movement happening across the United States in the 70s.

“I wanted to contribute to it and thought I could through my scholarship. I started writing immediately and by the time I retired I had published 21 books,” said De Leon.

De Leon taught at ASU for 42 years until he retired in 2015. During that time he wrote 21 books along with articles and book reviews, making some of the most significant contributions to the field of Mexican-American studies.

“He was certainly one of the great figures in the field of Mexican-American studies,” said Dr. John Klingemann, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at ASU, “He was one of the originators of the field of Mexican-American studies. He worked tirelessly over his career and he was part of that cohort that in the 70s created that field of the study of Mexican-Americans.”

Klingemann met De Leon at a conference in Arizona while he was completing his graduate studies. Years later, he taught in the ASU history department with De Leon.

“His contributions will continue. The scholarship that he left influenced so many people across the United States. His books were standard readings for students across the United States. His contributions extend beyond the time he was employed here at ASU,” added Klingemann.

“My dissertation was called ‘They Called them Greasers.’ That book is still used 40 years later in classrooms. If you take a course in Mexican-American History, that is a book that students will read. I still get royalties from that book. Usually, you only get royalties from a book after two years because all of the copies have been sold,” continued De Leon.

De Leon still lives in San Angelo and continues to write to this day, contributing to the field of studies he helped create more than 40 years ago.

“Once you’re a scholar, you’re never going to quit being a scholar. I imagine Arnoldo is right now doing research, waking up at 4 in the morning and writing a page a day so he can work on his next great publication,” said Klingemann.

Watch the full interview with Dr. Arnoldo De Leon below:

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