The Life and Times of Willie Velásquez: Su Voto Es Su Voz

The Life and Times of Willie Velásquez: Su Voto Es Su Voz

The Life and Times of Willie Velásquez: Su Voto Es Su Voz

The Life and Times of Willie Velásquez: Su Voto Es Su Voz


"William C. "Willie" Velasquez, Jr. founded the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (SVREP) and was an influential participant in other leading Latino rights and justice groups, including the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) and the Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC). From the late 1960s until his untimely death in 1988, Velasquez helped Mexican Americans and other Hispanics to become active participants in American political life. Although still insufficiently appreciated, Velasquez holds a unique status in the pantheon of modern American civil rights figures." "Velasquez's work on voter rights and registration triggered an unprecedented mobilization of Latino voters in pivotal electoral states across the United States, including California, Illinois, and Texas. Today, as Latinos emerge to constitute America's new minority of record, with growing reach into other major states, such as New York, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and North Carolina, Hispanic-American political influence - drawing on Velasquez's legacy - can only become more significant in the years to come." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


The night that Willie Velásquez was taken from us by cancer, his brother George stood by his bedside. George later told me that as Willie’s last moments neared, he whispered, “Qué bonito mundo nuevo.” His words translate roughly as, “What a beautiful new world it is!”

It is impossible to know precisely what Willie meant. Those of us who believe in the hereafter may surmise that Willie saw a glimpse of the spiritual world toward which he was moving that night. But he may also have been reflecting on the new world he had already helped create on earth and anticipating its beautiful progression. We now know that Willie’s work—profoundly American, fair-minded, and full of love for the marginalized and striving—has created a better world of inclusion, of possibilities, and of dreams fulfilled.

Few Americans have had as much influence over American electoral participation and representation in the modern era as Willie Velásquez. Willie’s efforts as a political organizer and builder of community-based institutions helped elevate American Latino voter participation to levels commensurate with our growing population numbers, following more than a century of institutionalized exclusion. Today, largely based on work Willie began, Latino voters and elected officials play an increasingly significant role in enhancing the nation’s quality of life through the election of our public leaders and through interventions that shape policies.

Willie was raised in modest circumstances in San Antonio’s historically Mexican American Westside. An active youngster and good son and brother, friends say that Willie was a late bloomer in traditional academic terms. But he was a product of the questioning sixties and a student of Catholic social values. These influences ultimately shaped him into one of the most effective social justice leaders and political organizers of our time. This volume, The Life and Times of Willie Velásquez: Su Voto es Su Voz, captures for the first time the impressive route that Willie followed to make a lasting mark on our nation’s political system.

I grew up in those same times, in the same part of Westside San Antonio. I attended the same high school and also experienced the social and . . .

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