Obed Silva
Educator, Author, and Public Speaker

Obed Silva was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and grew up in Orange County, California. Obed was raised by a single mother who was often at work. As a result, he sought comfort in the streets from an early age. At age fourteen, he joined a gang and dropped out of high school. Obed, moving in and out of juvenile institutions for several years, became involved in a liquor store robbery at seventeen. The incident resulted in a gunshot wound to his back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. A year later, he found himself in a courtroom facing attempted murder charges for shooting a rival gang member. At the time, he was looking at serving a life sentence in prison. Ultimately, the court sentenced him to five years on gang-terms probation. It was during this time that he committed himself to a life of education. He earned an associate of arts degree at Cypress College. He later earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a master’s degree in English from California State University at Los Angeles.


Obed Silva teaches English at East Los Angeles College. The Death of My Father the Pope is the first of his two memoirs to be published. He is currently completing his second memoir, In The Hands of My Mother.


In addition to being an educator and author, Obed is an experienced public speaker. Using his lived experiences as the central topic, he has delivered the keynote address for graduation at various high schools, colleges, and universities. He has also spoken to groups of young people at different juvenile institutions, foster homes, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. Institutions frequently invite Obed back due to the motivating and inspiring nature of his talks.

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A man mourning his alcoholic father faces a choice: whether to pay tribute, lay scorn upon him, or pour a drink.
Weaving between preparations for his father’s funeral and memories of life on both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border, Obed Silva chronicles his father’s alcoholism—a lifelong love that ended only at his death at the age of forty-eight, having poisoned himself one Carta Blanca at a time. Addiction respects no borders; the havoc Silva’s father wreaked on his family not only followed them north, where mother and son moved to escape his violent drunken rages, but would make itself felt even from the grave.
With a wry cynicism; a profane, profound anger; an antic, brutally honest voice; and a hard-won classical frame of reference, Silva channels the heartbreak of mourning while wrestling with the resentment and frustration resulting from addiction. The Death of My Father the Pope is a fluid and dynamic combination of memoir and examination of the power of language—and the introduction of a unique and powerful literary voice.

Noche de Familia A discussion on the importance of family and community support when overcoming obstacles and completing a college degree.

We Rise by Lifting Others Obed talks about his own issues with drug and alcohol abuse, how they affected his life, and how he was able to overcome them through family and community support.

Chats With Obed Silva Obed shares his transformation from gang member to college student, English professor, and author. He discusses the value of higher education and the transformative power of book reading.

BBC NewsVictim and perpetrator: The two gunshots that changed my life