Award-winning journalist Alfredo Corchado launches new book in Philadelphia
In Alfredo Corchado’s latest work, "Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration," the author traces the Mexican-American migration story through his own experience and that of three friends he first met in Philadelphia 30 years ago.
It was a wintry night in 1987 when two Mexican-American friends in Philadelphia, Alfredo Corchado and Primitivo Rodriguez, decided to check out a new Mexican restaurant in Center City, despite Corchado’s skepticism that it would be a chain restaurant instead of something closer to his mother’s cooking, which he had longed for since moving from El Paso, Texas to the Northeast for his first job out of college as a journalist with the Wall Street Journal’s Philadelphia bureau.
When he entered Tequilas restaurant that night, though, instead of simply finding some solace far from home with Rodriguez, a human rights advocate and activist who Corchado at the time thought might be the only other Mexican-American in Philadelphia, the young journalist discovered what would become an essential space to explore and discuss the questions he was living as a Mexican-American in the U.S. along with Rodriguez and two other Mexican-Americans that happened to be there that evening: owner of Tequilas and entrepreneur David Suro Piñera, and Ken Trujillo, Philly-based lawyer, politician, and business owner. From the serendipitous group formed that night, a decades-long friendship was born, along with an ongoing conversation on identity and Mexican-American immigration.
“We sort of gathered around this question, this question that I think has followed us for 30 years now as friends, and a question that is very relevant in today’s divisive atmosphere when it comes to immigration,” said Corchado, currently the Mexico City bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, in a visit to the AL DÍA newsroom on Monday. “‘How do we fit in?’ ‘What does it mean to be an American?’”
On Tuesday, Corchado, Rodriguez, Suro Piñera, and Trujillo will reunite at the place where it all began, Tequilas restaurant, to celebrate the launch of Corchado’s book "Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration," which narrates the story of their friendship against “the backdrop of the biggest demographic shift in U.S. history,” the Mexican-American migration of the past 40 years, the author said.
Corchado said that there was no question that he would launch the book in the City of Brotherly Love, where the friends' lives first intersected and his own path as a professional journalist began — a journey which has led him to cover critical stories on both sides of the border, breaking news and investigating drug cartels and violence with a clear-eyed and determined effort to deconstruct and describe the intertwining forces which shape both countries.
“I see Philadelphia as really the city where I came...at a very critical part of my life, and really formed me and really taught me a lot about diversity,” said Corchado.
“This is a city that was founded by William Penn, it’s a city that’s very close to my heart because it gave me an opportunity as an immigrant to reinvent myself."
The launch celebration, free and open to the public, will be held on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Tequilas restaurant, 1602 Locust St. Check out the event and stay tuned for more on our interview with Corchado next week.