From Janitor to Justice: The Life of Felipe Reyna

From Janitor to Justice: The Life of Felipe Reyna is a true-life story of the dreams, hard work, and success of a man from humble beginnings. Justice Felipe Reyna's story captures the heartstrings of each and every person who aspires to obtain a piece of the American Dream. Felipe Reyna, the American-born son of a once illegal immigrant father and an American mother, fought through poverty, prejudice, and impossible circumstances to become the first college graduate in his family. Later described as "A Dream as big as Texas," this dream led Felipe to complete law school while serving as a janitor in the courthouse of McLennan County, Texas. During late-night study sessions, Felipe envisioned one day serving his country and fellow citizens as a justice in that same courtroom. In 2004, Felipe Reyna became Justice Felipe Reyna. From Janitor to Justice captures Felipe Reyna's passion and unique perspective on many prickly issues, including abortion, faith, public service, and immigration. Clearly, Justice Felipe Reyna's rise from humble beginnings strikes a powerful chord in human hearts-regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, or socio-economic status. Those who know him believe that Felipe Reyna's story of big dreams, lofty goals, hard work, family values, and ultimate success needs to be told to a much wider audience. Close friend and confidante Carolyn Payne Lomax wrote: "This story needs to be told to every school child, to every political gathering, and to every American."

The significance of Felipe Reyna's quest for the American Dream is not so much the impact of what it means to him but what it means to others. When an immigrant Latina mother reads how little Felipe was sent home from school because he couldn't speak English but later graduated as valedictorian of his high school class, perhaps the seed of hope for her offspring will germinate in her heart. When African-American youths in East Texas-scarred from the James Byrd slaying at the hands of racists-read about Felipe Reyna's bouts with prejudice, perhaps they will be inspired to work hard, get an education, and persevere, despite the lingering possibility of discrimination. When poor Caucasians, such as the author's grandparents who scratched out a living as Mississippi sharecroppers, read about Felipe Reyna's impoverished upbringing, perhaps they will look beyond their present circumstances, set their sights high, and look for ways to overcome their lack of material resources. The final manuscript of this book resulted from more than two years of extensive research and personal interviews with Justice Reyna, family members, friends, business associates, and political allies and foes. As a result, From Janitor to Justice gives readers a bird's eye view of forces and events that propelled Justice Reyna's father north of the border and revisits the passion, anguish, joys, and disappointments comprising the Felipe Reyna story. Eight pages of photographs from family archives connect faces with the narrative and document Felipe Reyna's life from preschool to courtroom. The book also contains supplemental material that deepens reader understanding of the Reyna family's no-nonsense adherence to principle, but reveals the family's light-hearted humanity and verve for life. Justice Felipe Reyna commissioned the writing of this authorized biography to encourage and inspire others to embrace big dreams and pay the price necessary to bring those dreams into reality.

Click here to view an excerpt from the book.