How Willie Velásquez Organized for Latino Voting Rights

How willie velásquez organized for latino voting rights

Few people have had such a profound impact on the political empowerment of the Latin American electorate as Willie Velásquez. His grassroots work to register and mobilize Latino voters, beginning in his home state of Texas, has turned the frustrations, hopes, and pride of a diverse and rapidly growing segment of the American population into a force strong at the polls.

He became best known for his rallying cry, “Su voto es su voz(“Your vote is your voice”).

Unlike the voting rights work of southern black activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and John Lewis, which attracted widespread national attention at the time, the voting rights in the American Southwest have gone much more under the radar. But the impact of Velásquez and the group he founded in the early 1970s, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), is no less impressive. By the time of his death at age 44 in 1988, SVREP had encouraged hundreds of Latino political candidates, mounted countless nonpartisan election campaigns to engage poor and disenfranchised Latinos, and successfully filed more than 75 lawsuits for help reverse gerrymandering, eliminate language barriers and other repressions. electoral practices.

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