From Voter Drives to Viva Kennedy: The Mexican American Vote in Houston, 1930s - 1960s
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The power of the Latino vote today has its roots in Mexican American engagement of the pre-World War II era. In 1935 the Latin American Club of Houston held voter drives aiming to reach 10,000 qualified Hispanic voters. Over the next 25 years, despite a $1.50 poll tax designed to prevent minority voter participation, Houston organizations such as the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 60 (LULAC), the Civic Action Committee (CAC) and the Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations (PASSO) sought to empower Latino Houstonians to use their voice and their vote. By the 1960 presidential election Latino voters would come out in unprecedented numbers to influence politics on the national stage electing John F. Kennedy to the United States Presidency. His visit to Houston three years later would officially acknowledge Latinos as an important voting bloc.
“…what we were trying to do was to let the word spread like when you drop a rock into still water and let the little waves begin to spread out, and it was just exactly what happened. Although we were just a little rock, we were making waves.” – Interview with Alfonso Vazquez, September 26, 1978