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Transcript of Willie Velasquez
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Willie then set out to build the
Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP)
believing if Chicanos did not vote, their voices and opinions in politics would always be silenced. By canvassing neighborhood, giving multiple speeches, and discussing politics with Congress in Washington D.C., Willie truly believed “Su voto es su voz” and dedicated his life to making sure Mexican-Americans had the same rights in politics as whites.
Source 3- Willie Velasquez launches his new organization, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, 1976, in San Antonio, Texas.
Source 6- Willie Velasquez Quote
Senate Session 100-2. Congressional Record,
Daily Edition, 1988.
Source 1- San Antonio Newspaper article regarding the Mexican American Youth Organization
Source 2- Canvasing neighborhoods to raise awareness
Source 3- Launching SVREP
Source 4- SVREP Motto
Source 5- San Antonio Newspaper article regarding Latino strides in politics
Source 6- Congressional Session and Discussion
Source 7- Progress Speech in San Antonio
Source 8- Family Admiration
Source 9- Recognition in Congress
William Velasquez was born on May 9, 1944 in Orlando, Florida. After his father fought in WWII, his family moved to San Antonio, Texas where he attended high school as well as college as St. Mary’s University. Throughout his college career, Willie (as he became known) helped the United Farm Workers Union as well as coordinating a boycott in the Star County Strike. Both of these events were marginalizing Mexican-Americans, and with Willie’s help, they began to have more of a voice in the labor on the farm.
In March of 1967, Willie helped found the
Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO)
at his college. This became the major political-party organization of Mexican-American youth in Texas, aimed at social action for Chicano youth, and it eventually led Willie to found the Raza Unida party in 1970. As the third part of Hispanics, Willie’s ultimate goal was to give his people the voice they deserved in politics. He was named the
of this party and concentrated his efforts on educating Mexican-Americans on their voting rights, discussing the importance of their votes.
Source 1- San Antonio Express Newspaper Article, 1969, discussing the funding and controversy over MAYO, Willie's youth organization
Why would MAYO need to rely heavily on grants?
Why do you think MAYO was as controversial as it was?
How do you think Willie dealt with this adversity?
Source 2- Velasquez surveying and gathering information from a local Latino to inform people about SVREP and increase Latino voter registration. He set out to collect and distribute information on public policy issues ranging from income and poverty to U.S. and Latin America relations.
Why is he talking to local Latinos?
What do you think he did with the information that he gathered?
How do you think surveying helped his cause?
Why did Willie feel as though Latinos needed to be registered to vote?
Who was his target audience?
Why was it important for Willie to start at the state level (Texas) before making his campaign national?
Source 4- SVREP Campaign Motto, coined by Willie Velasquez himself
(Your vote is your voice.)
Why would Willie use this quote as the motto for all of his work?
Was choosing this quote as his motto a good or bad choice on Willie's part? Why?
Why would the motto be written in Spanish?
Source 5- San Antonio Express Newspaper Article, 1977, discussing the strides Velasquez had made for Latinos
The title uses the word “game.” What does that word mean is correspondence to what Willie was trying to achieve?
What did Willie mean when he said, “It’s similar to what happened in the south to blacks?”
Why would Willie speak to the San Antonio Express newspaper? What purpose did that serve?
Who were Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy?
What did Velasquez mean when he said, “It didn’t pave the streets?”
What did Velasquez do to change the structure of voting in Texas?
UTSA Permalink, Online Government Document Database
Source 7- Willie giving a speech in San Antonio, Texas (1988) to discuss the progress of Latinos in politics. Cesar Chavez was in attendance.
What might Velasquez be speaking about?
Why would Cesar Chavez be there?
What types of people do you see?
What are their similarities and differences?
Willie Velasquez passed away of kidney cancer on June 15, 1988 and was buried in San Antonio. However, he has had several conferences, libraries, parks and schools named after him, and he even had a community center in downtown San Antonio. He was even awarded the
Presidential Medal of Freedom
in 1995 by President Clinton, the highest honor any civilian can receive - and only the second Latino ever to earn that honor.
His hard work and dedication throughout his life certainly paid off, too! By 1998, Chicano voter registration grew from 2.4 million nationwide to
! To this day, SVREP has educated 50,000 community leaders and successfully p
assed 85 voting rights law suits
to help Mexican-Americans find their voices.
Source 8- Catarina Velasquez admires a painting of her father Willie Velasquez after his passing, 1989. He is depicted with a few presidents and political advocates.
Who are the men Velasquez is portrayed with in this painting?
Why would he be compared to/portrayed with all those famous men?
Do you think it was difficult to carryout his legacy after his passing? Why or why not?
Source 9- Congress Session 107-1. Congressional Record, Daily Edition, 2001.
Out of the 35.3 million Hispanic Americans, what percentage if currently registered to vote?
Why would people still recognize Willie’s hard work 13 years after his passing?
How do you think Willie would feel, if he were still alive, about the power Latinos now have in politics?