Foreword by Terrence J. Roberts, Ph.D. and former Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines

Foreword by Terrence J. Roberts, Ph.D.

One of the “Little Rock Nine,” who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957


Randy Jurado Ertll has written about his life as an activist in ways that inspire readers to recalibrate their own lives. His struggles against injustice remind us of the need for continued social action at every level of our existence. Forced from his country of birth as a consequence of unjust regulations, plunged into the chaos of 1970’s rural El Salvador, later in that same decade faced with the task of learning to navigate the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles, Randy discovered an incipient desire to change the order of things. He nurtured that kernel even as he expended vast amounts of energy just to outwit the menacing mice, cockroaches, and human vermin that sought to add him to their list of victims. What he saw around him did not mesh with the vision in his own head; Randy saw the reality of poverty and its related ills, but was not inclined to embrace that version of life. No, he could see even then that something better must be in his future.

Indeed, it was “A Better Chance” that awaited him as this organization provided the means for him to attend high school in Minnesota. With that boost, Randy was off and running. And he has not stopped yet! You will read about his foundational experiences in college, his continued growth as a young community organizer, the influential figures in his life, and the fuel that feeds the fire in his belly. His accumulated wisdom over the years is evident as he provides detailed instructions about organization and mobilization for non-profits, and gives fair warning to those who would accept boards of directors and/or bureaucracies at face value. It would be well for budding activists to know that guerilla warfare tactics are not to be disregarded!

Perhaps more than anything else, what Randy gives us is the opportunity to face ourselves in the mirror and ask the hard questions that lurk always at the edge of consciousness. Why am I here on this planet? Is it my job to cry out against the injustice around me? Where is it written on the walls of the universe that someone else, someone besides me, should tackle the issues we all face? What will happen if I don’t act? As you read how Randy answers these questions for himself, you may feel an itch to learn more about your role in this human drama or you may find nagging questions insistent upon being answered during all of your waking hours (and maybe disturbing your sleep as well!) Whatever the outcome, remember, your choice is just that, your choice. Neither Randy nor I nor anyone else will say you must be involved.

But, do remember this, the need is great. The time is now.

Terrence J. Roberts, Ph.D.

One of the “Little Rock Nine”


Foreword by Ramon C. Cortines, Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

The journey of Randy Jurado Ertll has not been easy by any means. He grew up in El Salvador and South Central Los Angeles. He lived in dangerous and violent environments. He overcame many challenges through focusing on obtaining a quality education through the Los Angeles Unified School District and through the A Better Chance scholarship program. He sacrificed by going away to Rochester, Minnesota and leaving his mother and two younger sisters behind. But he needed to get away, to escape the allure of gangs.

Jurado Ertll sets an example that minority youth who grow up in the inner-city can in fact become successful and should return to their own communities to make a significant and positive impact in improving the lives of others. He has done an excellent job being executive director of El Centro de Accion Social where he helps countless students and senior citizens through social service programs. He is committed to social justice.

Jurado Ertll witnessed much violence and injustices. Instead of giving up or being intimidated, he has stood up and fought for the rights of others. It is an exhausting and demanding journey, but we need community leaders like him to continue making social change.

His story transcends the Salvadoran American experience. It is a real life story of perseverance and courage. As a Mexican American myself, I understand his struggles and dreams. Thousands of young students will relate to his story, will gain insight, and knowledge of opportunities that do exist to help our students. Our students need to be aware of the various programs that are available to help them succeed. We cannot afford to allow “our children” to drop out or join gangs.

They must seek the path of knowledge. As Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District I applaud Randy’s efforts to inform our community through this insightful and powerful book. We have to teach our children that there is “Hope in Times of Darkness.”

Ramon (Ray) Cortines
Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

Randy Jurado Ertll – author