About the Book
William C. “Willie” Velásquez 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, Velásquez helped Mexican Americans and other Hispanics become active participants in American political life. Though still insufficiently appreciated, Velásquez holds a unique status in the pantheon of modern American civil rights figures.
Velásquez’s work on voter rights and registration triggered an unprecedented mobilization of Latino voters in pivotal electoral states across the U.S., 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 Velásquez’s legacy – can only become more significant in the years to come.
This critical biography features an introduction by Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Former Rhodes Scholar and Velásquez protégé Juan A. Sepúlveda, Jr.’s biography of the man provides a first, definitive glimpse into his life and times. Based on Sepúlveda’s close personal relationship and exchanges with Velásquez during the SVREP founder’s final years, and over a dozen years of research and writing, the book chronicles Velásquez’s influences, his landmark contributions to American civic culture, and his enduring legacy.