The Santos Rodriguez Memorial Endowed Scholarship promotes Human Rights education for emerging leaders and honors the memory of a young boy whose life ended far too soon.
In the early hours of July 24, 1973, 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez and his 13-year-old brother, David, were taken illegally from their Dallas home, handcuffed and placed in a police car for questioning by police officers. Placing a revolver against the younger boy’s head, one of the officers attempted to elicit information on a recent robbery by pulling the trigger of his revolver in a game of “Russian Roulette.” Rodriguez maintained his innocence, a claim that was later corroborated by physical evidence at the robbery scene. A second pull of the trigger fired a live bullet that killed the boy instantly.
This tragedy sparked such a widespread public outcry that it led to a race riot in Dallas. The officer was sentenced to five years in prison, although he was released after only half of that time. In 2013 – 40 years after the incident – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued an official apology on behalf of the City of Dallas to the Rodriguez family after grassroots efforts brought the event back into the public spotlight. The Santos Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship campaign seeks to follow this symbolic first step toward progress with a more tangible second step.