Carlos Cortés will be the keynote speaker at the President’s Banquet on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at the Sheraton New Orleans. This is the 25th anniversary conference of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME).
“The son of a Mexican Catholic father with aristocratic roots and a mother of Eastern European Jewish descent, Carlos Cortés grew up wedged between cultures, living a childhood in “constant crossfire-straddling borders, balancing loves and loyalties, and trying to fit into a world that wasn’t quite ready.” In some ways, even his family wasn’t quite ready (for him). His request for a bar mitzvah sent his proud father into a cursing rage. He was terrified to bring home the Catholic girl he was dating, for fear of wounding his mother and grandparents. When he tried to join a high school fraternity, Christians wouldn’t take him because he was Jewish, and Jews looked sideways at him because his father was Mexican.
In his new memoir, Rose Hill: An Intermarriage before Its Time, Cortés lovingly chronicles his family’s tumultuous, decades-long spars over religion, class, and culture, from his early years in legally segregated Kansas City during the 1940s to his return to Berkeley (where his parents met) in the 1950s, and to his parents’ separation, reconciliation, deaths, and eventual burials at the Rose Hill Cemetery. Cortés elevates the theme of intermarriage to a new level of complexity in this closely observed and emotionally fraught memoir adapted from his nationally successful one-man play, A Conversation with Alana: One Boy’s Multicultural Rite of Passage.”