SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

The Supreme Court in Washington

PHOTO: The Supreme Court. REUTERS

Today the Supreme Court hears arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).  In 1965, following a civil rights movement demonstration in Selma, Alabama, which ended in bloodshed, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act and catapulted the civil rights movement by making discriminatory practices that disenfranchised voters illegal.

 

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The 15th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” However, continuing discriminatory practices like poll taxes and mandatory literacy tests prevented African Americans from voting and in 1965 Congress passed the VRA. Section 5 of the VRA prohibits discrimination based on race, critical in specific states with historical and documented discriminatory restrictions on voting.

 

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These particular jurisdictions are prevented from making changes in their election requirements without first getting pre-approval from the federal government. Section 2 of the VRA bars the use of voting practices or procedures that discriminate against minority voters.

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During the 2012 Presidential election there were many attempts to disenfranchise voters with attempts to pass voter ID laws that prevented minorities and elderly people from exercising their Constitutional right to vote. Long voting lines and last minute changes to polling sites are every bit as oppressive as the poll taxes that dominated past elections before the passing of the VRA of 1965.
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“Texas, for example, proposed a stringent voter ID law that had the purpose to prevent minority voter participation which the Supreme Court found violated Section 5 of the VRA,” said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “It’s outrageous to minority voters to suggest that the VRA is outdated in light of recent attempts by states to disenfranchise voters. The progress we’ve made has been solely because of the protections offered by the VRA, and any distinctions made are attempts to manipulate the law for political advantage.” The League of United Latin American Citizens is rallying on February 27th on the steps of the Supreme Court in order to reinforce to the Court that the Voting Rights Act protects real voters from discrimination.

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LATINOS DO VOTE: WELCOME TO THE SHIFT AND THE NEW CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN STORY

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Today America finds itself at a new crossroads – our culture, our country and our companies are changing again. It’s a shift from exclusion to inclusion from borders to bridges; it’s the new chapter of the American story where our country becomes richer. Hispanic babies are being born this very minute and are like knights in shining armor riding in to save the age of the American boomer. We are replenishing a nation with an endless source of passion, hard work and rhythm. So take a breath, take it all in because we are a part of that shift! Latinos are shifting the message and the thinking because we are not just brown but we are white, black, blonde and so much more! We get to see the shift come to life! Welcome to the next big thing; it’s the end of a niche and the birth of what’s next! -2012 Hispanic Voice Town Hall Tour across America

HISPANICS 2012 “WE DO VOTE!”

“THE 2012 HISPANIC VOICE TOWN HALL TOUR WILL DEFINE AN AGENDA FOR HISPANICS IN AMERICA TO HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND WHY WE MUST PLAY A MORE ACTIVE AND INFLUENTIAL ROLE IN THE REINVENTION OF AMERICA” -FOUNDER GREG LLOPIS

photo source AP

The League of United Latin American Citizens explains how the Latino vote has become a pivotal factor for many political candidates, including the presidency. Estimates from the U.S. Census and the rapid expansion of the population have created a tidal wave of activities aimed at attracting the Hispanic vote across the nation. Even Hollywood gets involved from Rosario Dawson, to Wilmer Valderrama to Eva Longoria are only a few of the actors/actresses getting involved.

photo source Getty Images

Since 1990, 1.5 million Latinos have naturalized. There are 6.6 million registered Latino voters across the nation. In California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York, five key electoral states, Latinos have emerged as powerful allies for candidates seeking office. Consider that at 50.5 million, the U.S. Latino population is already larger than the entire population of England and Spain. Latinos are not just large in population size, they have the double distinction of being the youngest and fastest-growing group in the nation.

SALVADOR GUERRERO / SHFWire Brent A. Wilkes, right, of LULAC, and Jose Calderon, left, of the Hispanic Federation are working with Hector Sanchez, of LACLAA, to launch Movimiento Hispano, a website dedicated to increase Latino Voter turnout.

The Hispanic Federation, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and the League of United Latin American Citizens announced their joint effort in February called Latinos for Democracy, which focuses on voting in the Latino community. The group has coordinated its efforts in 24 states and use the Movimiento Hispano project’s website to help Latinos stay informed on the latest political news.

photo source AP

Over the past 10 years, the members of LFD have worked with over 2.1 million Latino Trade unionists, 135,000 volunteer members, and over 100 community-based organizations to advance Latino voter mobilization. The Hispanic vote is growing by leaps and bounds. Nearly 10 million Latinos voted in the 2008 Presidential elections – an increase of almost 30% from 2004. And just think about the fact that every year for the next twenty years, 500,000 Hispanics will turn 18 in the United States.

Groups such as the the 2012 Hispanic Voice Town Hall Tour, is a group of Young Latinos ready to to change the story about Hispanics in this country. They’re ready to play a more prominent role in how our community influences policy makers, corporate leaders, and the rest of America. They’re starting to express themselves with a new attitude and a new sense of purpose. They’re excited to use the 2012 Hispanic Voice platform to showcase a new, energized Hispanic voice, a voice that hasn’t yet been fully unleashed. And most importantly, they want results: Less talking, more doing!

Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Figueroa, Obama’s top Latino outreach official, said [Texas] could be taken seriously as a presidential battleground if Democrats could win statewide races there in 2010. “I don’t know if it’s four years or eight years off, but down the road, Texas will be a presidential battleground,” Figueroa said. The reason is demographics. Across the Southwest, Latino voters are increasingly powerful. In Colorado, their share of the vote went from 8% in 2004 to 13% in 2008. Nevada, 10% to 15%. New Mexico, 32% to 41%. Every 30 seconds, a Latino is added to the American population, the fastest rate of any minority group. By 2050, Hispanics will represent 29 percent of the American population. In 2008, Latinos voted 67-31 for Barack Obama. Texas is already 35 percent Hispanic. You can see where this is going. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2008/11/when-will-we-see-blue-texas-hispanics-will-decide

Driven by some Republicans’ sharp attacks on illegal immigration and — as many Hispanics perceived it, immigrants in general — Latino voters fled the GOP en masse in the midterm elections, then turned on John McCain, as well. He got 31 percent of the Latino vote to the 44 percent that George W. Bush took in 2004, according to exit polls. And it was enough to put much of the West and Southwest out of reach for the Republican Party, to give Florida to the Democrats and to hand Barack Obama the presidency. Now, as Obama moves to solidify his advantage, Republican leaders are sounding the alarm on what could be the party’s most pressing national challenge.

“Viva Bush” signs were prevalent when then-Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush made a campaign stop in Mesilla, New Mexico in 2000. Tracy Greer/Fronteras

JUST BECAUSE THEY SAY WE CAN’T DOESN’T MEAN WE WON’T! IN NOVEMBER OUR VOICE WILL ROAR!

There are hundreds of Latino organizations and/or local chapters taking charge by registering voters and creating an unprecedented Get Out The Vote movement across our nation. Groups such as Voto Latino, National Coucil of la Raza, the Tequila Party, Southwest Voter Registration, etc. and even local groups  like Mi Famila Vota in Las Vegas and Arizona, AACT NOW in South Texas, Teamsters in Chicago, etc. are doing their part to spearhead revolutions this November. The media is leading the public to believe that the Latino vote does not count or that the registrations numbers are down, but the truth is that the Latino vote and voice is powerful and in a few months it will be heard!

The GOP nominee will need a minimum of 35-40% of the Hispanic vote to be competitive in November, and that Marco Rubio offers the best opportunity to get there due to the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in a number of crucial swing states.

Alicia Menendez on MSNBC w/ Ben Monterroso of Mi familia Vota & Frank Donatelli

Hispanic rights activists holding a rally in 2010 at the Teamsters Local 705 hall in Chicago.

Groups such as the non-partisan Mi Familia Vota (My Family Votes) consists of Hispanic families all across Nevada not only working to register voters, but to also turn out the vote in November. Five days a week, about 20 staff members and several volunteers of Mi Familia Vota meet and brainstorm on ways to get the Latino community engaged in the voting process.  For now, they are visiting popular places within the Hispanic community. But in a few months, they will be going to door to door throughout neighborhoods. “We go to their grocery stores. While they are buying tortillas, we are telling them it’s time to vote. They are at the grocery stores.  They are at the 99 cents stores, at the carneceria’s, at the DMV,” said Leo Murrieta with Mi Familia Vota.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH WHAT MI FAMILIA VOTA IS DOING

BELOW IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT THE NON-PARTISAN “AACT NOW” IS DOING TO REGISTER VOTERS AND GET OUT THE VOTE IN SOUTH TEXAS. THIS GROUP WAS FOUNDED BY THE REAL ESTATE TYCOON AND BILLIONAIRE FROM MCALLEN, TX.

HISPANICS HAVE REACHED A TURNING POINT, SO JUST BECAUSE THE MEDIA CHOOSES NOT TO FEATURE OUR LATINO MOVEMENT THE REALITY IS THAT IT IS HAPPENING AND WE ARE MOBILIZING! HISPANICS WILL SHOW AMERICA IN 2012 THAT THE SLEEPING GIANT IS AWAKE AND THAT OUR VOICES ARE ROARING. LATINOS WILL NO LONGER BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED…WELCOME TO THE SHIFT…WE ARE THE FUTURE!!!!

2012: THE “MINORITY” VOTE IS ON FIRE

Jealous said the NAACP is the only group outside of the two major political parties with a voter database for all 50 states. Photo credit: Ishton W. Morton

The NAACP has also launched its nationwide drive to register thousands of mostly minority, student and elderly voters before the November 6th, 2012 elections. The organization has chosen the State of Georgia to launch its voter registration push. According to NAACP President Ben Jealous, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization will work harder and smarter to meet the new voting requirements. He framed them as a negative reaction to historic voter turnout in 2008 that led to Barack Obama’s election as the first black U.S. president.

Referencing the 2008 election he continued to say “Were we students of history, we would’ve expected that night, when everybody was celebrating, that we needed to be preparing for what we’re dealing with right now. We saw the largest most diverse presidential electorate this country has ever seen.

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L.U.L.A.C. WAS FOUNDED THIS DAY ON FEBRUARY 17TH: HAPPY BIRTHDAY

THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS FOUNDED ON

FEBRUARY 17TH: HAPPY BIRTHDAY LULAC

LULAC History – All for One and One for All

First LULAC Convention - Corpus Christi, TX - 5/17/1929The founding of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on a cold, rainy day at Salon Obreros y Obreras, Corpus Christi, Texas, on February 17, 1929, marked an important milestone in the history of Hispanic American people in the United States, as LULAC has since evolved into one of the premiere organizations representing the civil rights of Hispanic Americans.

The League sprung from the rise of a Texan-Mexican middle class and resistance to racial discrimination. The strength of the organization has historically been in Texas, although it now enjoys widespread support across the country.

LULAC is a multi-issue organization because its founders were confronted with a plethora of the challenges: addressing political disfranchisement, racial segregation, and racial discrimination that plagued Latinos through the early twentieth century. Since its inception, LULAC has responded to deepening issues in American society affecting Hispanic Americans, including racism, lack of political representation and the growing Hispanic vote, the exclusion of Hispanics from juries, and the segregation of public schools, housing, and public accommodations. And though the organization would criticize American society for discriminating against Hispanic Americans, in particular, it encouraged reform rather than an attempt to restructure the political and economic construct of the country.

LULAC Outing - 4/21/1929LULAC is set apart from its peer organizations in the Hispanic community by its political ideology. The founders of LULAC respected the precepts on which the United States was established, including the writings of the country’s founding fathers, and in an effort to imbue LULAC with the same spirit of purpose and opportunity that is the foundation of American democracy and free enterprise, they praised the nation in well-crafted written statements and speeches. This deference toward the American way of life was done largely, in the beginning, to placate the American public’s suspicion of the organization’s motives and to satisfy the personal beliefs and political preferences of the League’s membership. Officers and members of LULAC were required to take an oath swearing their loyalty to the government of the United States and their support of its Constitution and laws. The organization would adopt “America” as its official song, English as its official language, and “George Washington’s Prayer” as its official prayer. The League’s constitution was modeled after the U.S. Constitution.

LULAC’s early activists fought racism in a country that clearly rejected Mexican American people and culture. But the League’s members held on to their pride and sought to retain their Latino heritage while also advocating a grasp of the English language, loyalty to the United States, and participation in American civic and social activities, becoming advocates of bilingualism and biculturalism, as long as it was understood that Hispanic Americans’ primary loyalty was to the United States and its institutions.

First LULAC Convention ArticleThe founders of LULAC were economic conservatives who viewed racial discrimination, not class domination, as the primary cause of Mexican Americans’ problems.

At the beginning of World War II, many of the League’s councils ceased to exist because their members volunteered or were drafted into the armed services. By the end of the war, LULAC councils were revived with the return of Hispanic veterans who had constituted the core of activists destined to renew the fight for equal civil rights. For a period of fifteen years post–World War II, the organization conducted a series of lawsuits, petitioned local governments, and mobilized the Latino vote to challenge discriminatory practices in America’s Southwest. Along with another organization, the American GI Forum, LULAC was at the forefront of civil rights for Hispanic Americans in the post–World War II years.

The League remains, to this day, unique from an organizational perspective, largely because it had two notable mobilization phases, the first in 1929 when LULAC was established, and the second in 1945 after World War II. While World War II decidedly interrupted the group’s work, and most of its councils disbanded, by war’s end Hispanic veterans saw the vast opportunities in a booming United States economy and wanted to participate in the American dream. The period from the end of the war through the late 1950s was a long period of political activism. LULAC’s crusade for civil rights moved forward in concert with a libertarian ethic and a strident antisocialist stand, arguing that discrimination provided an opportunity for propaganda to divide and decimate the country.7 Beginning in the late 1950s LULAC created a series of landmark programs for the Latino community that have themselves become important institutions for the advancement of Hispanics. These include the LULAC’s Little Schools of the 400 created in 1957 to teach basic English words to Hispanic preschoolers. This innovating program was the model used by President Johnson in the creation of the federal Headstart program.

DiscriminationIn the 1960s LULAC councils built more than two dozen housing projects to provide affordable housing to low income families. LULAC and the American GI Forum created SER-Jobs for Progress, the premiere Hispanic employment training program in 1966. Today SER provides employment and training services through more than forty-three employment centers located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. In 1968 LULAC created the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund to provide legal services to the Hispanic community. LULAC’s flag ship educational program, the LULAC National Educational Service Centers, was created in 1973 and now provides counseling services to more than 20,000 Hispanic students each year at seventeen regional centers located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

In the last decade, LULAC created the LULAC Corporate Alliance, an advisory board of Fortune 500 companies, to foster stronger partnerships between Corporate America and the Hispanic community and the LULAC Institute to develop and support community-service programs for its volunteer councils.

LULAC has grown dramatically from the small, tightly associated band of South Texas individuals who joined together in 1929 to form the organization. Now a nationwide organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with more than 700 LULAC councils operating throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC represents and serves Latinos from all nationalities and backgrounds. LULAC councils award millions of dollars in scholarships to Hispanic students each year, organize citizenship and voter registration drives, conduct thousands of volunteer-based service programs for disadvantaged Latinos, and actively empower the Hispanic community at the local, state and national levels. LULAC, and the family of organizations it helped create, is a tremendous force for advancing the education, employment, housing, health, political empowerment, and civil rights of Hispanic Americans. With a vibrant and growing membership, unparalleled grassroots outreach, innovative model programs, and dynamic leadership, LULAC’s best days are still to come.

Read More: http://www.lulac.net/about/history.html

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THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 6TH – 17TH

THE HISPANIC BLOG CREATOR JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 17TH

LULAC founded

On this day in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens, originally called the United Latin American Citizens, was founded at Salón Obreros y Obreras in Corpus Christi, Texas. LULAC is the oldest and largest continually active Latino political association in the United States and was the first nationwide Mexican-American civil-rights organization. It grew out of the rising Texas-Mexican middle class and resistance to racial discrimination. The strength of the organization has historically been in Texas. Over the years LULAC has been a multi-issue organization. It was organized in response to political disfranchisement, racial segregation, and racial discrimination. It responded to bossism, the lack of political representation, the lack of a sizable independent Mexican-American vote, jury exclusion of Mexican-Americans, and white primaries. It also dealt with the segregation of public schools, housing, and public accommodations. The organization has attempted to solve the problems of poverty among Mexican Americans and has sought to build a substantial Mexican-American middle class.

1756 — Lt. Gov. Bernardo de Miranda y Flores of Spanish Texas set out from San Antonio to search for mineral deposits and discovered the Los Almagres silver mine in Llano.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 16TH

Longoria given hero’s burial

On this day in 1949, the body of Private Felix Longoria of Three Rivers, Texas, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Longoria had died in the Philippines near the end of World War II. When his recovered remains were sent to Three Rivers for burial, the funeral director refused the use of his chapel for a “Mexican.” After action by the American G.I. Forum and Lyndon Johnson, Longoria was buried in Arlington. The affair provided a model case in the Mexican-American struggle for civil rights.

Lone survivor of Bonilla expedition found

On this day in 1599, Jusepe Guitiérrez, the lone survivor of the Bonilla expedition, was found by Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate. Francisco Leyva de Bonilla, a Portuguese captain in the service of Spain, was dispatched in 1594 by Governor Diego de Velasco of Nueva Vizcaya to pursue beyond the frontiers of that state a rebellious band of Indians that had committed acts of theft. Once across the border, Bonilla and his party determined to explore New Mexico and the plains beyond and to search for the fabled treasure of Quivira. They spent about a year at the upper Rio Grande pueblos, making Bove (San Ildefonso) their principal headquarters. They then explored into Arkansas and Nebraska. According to the statement of Gutiérrez, a Mexican Indian who was with the party, Bonilla was stabbed to death after a quarrel with his lieutenant, Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña, who then assumed command. Sometime after the murder, Jusepe and five other Indians deserted the party and retraced their steps toward New Mexico. On the way, four were lost and a fifth was killed. Jusepe was taken captive by Apache and Vaquero Indians and kept for a year. At the end of that period, he made his way to Cicuyé and in 1599 was found at Picuris by Oñate, who secured his services as a guide and interpreter. When Oñate arrived at Quivira in the summer of 1601, he learned that hostile Indians had attacked and wiped out Humaña and nearly all his followers on their return journey, by setting fire to the grass at a place on the High Plains subsequently called La Matanza.

GUTIÉRREZ, JUSEPE (ca. 1572-?). Jusepe Gutiérrez (Jusephe, José, Joseph), a native of Culhuacan, a short distance north of Mexico City, was a Mexican Indian servant of Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña,qv a lieutenant in the illegal expedition of Francisco Leyva de Bonilla.qv Following the murder of Bonilla by Humaña, Jusepe, along with five other Mexican Indians deserted the expedition somewhere on the high plains. Jusepe was captured by a wandering band of Apache Indians and held prisoner for a year. On hearing of the Spaniards in New Mexico he escaped to the Pecos pueblos, where he was found by Juan de Oñateqv at Picuries on February 16, 1599. He guided Oñate to Quiviraqv in 1601. Jusepe was the only known survivor of the Bonilla expedition.

1959: Fidel Castro became the president of Cuba.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 15TH

Texas adopts constitution

On this day in 1876, citizens of Texas adopted the Constitution of 1876. They ratified it by a vote of 136,606 to 56,652. The document is the sixth constitution by which Texas has been governed since declaring independence from Mexico. Among the longest of U.S. state constitutions, the Constitution of 1876 reflects the earlier influences of Spanish and Mexican rule, the state’s predominantly agrarian nature in the late nineteenth century, and a resurgent Democratic party determined to undo many of the measures implemented by Republican administrations during Reconstruction. Despite having been amended more than 230 times, it remains the basic law of Texas today.

Texas has had six constitutions: the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, and the state constitutions of 1845, 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1876.

The 1876 constitution, which took effect on February 15, is the current constitution of Texas. Texas’ Constitution is the one of the longest state constitutions in the United States, and one of the oldest still in effect.

Texas (Hispanic) rancher murdered by Mexican troops

Slater, H. D., editor. El Paso Herald (El Paso, Tex.), Ed. 1, Wednesday, February 25, 1914, Newspaper, February 25, 1914; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth138070/ : accessed February 17, 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.

On this day in 1914, the body of South Texas rancher Clemente Vergara was found hanging from a tree. Vergara owned a ranch near Palafox. He allowed his horses to graze on an island in the Rio Grande, land that was disputed by the United States and Mexico. Vergara suspected that Mexican soldiers had stolen eleven of his horses from the island. He and a nephew crossed the Rio Grande to meet with several soldiers who called the two men over. Vergara was struck on the head and carried to the Hidalgo garrison, while his nephew escaped and returned to the United States. Vergara’s wife and daughter crossed into Mexico on February 14 and found him severely beaten and jailed in the Hidalgo garrison. The following morning soldiers told the women that he had been taken to Piedras Negras. Texas governor Oscar B. Colquitt and President Woodrow Wilson‘s administration disagreed on how to deal with the situation, with the former advocating the use of Texas Rangers to extradite Vergara’s kidnappers if necessary. On February 16 the commander at Piedras Negras reported that he had ordered Vergara’s release and the return of his horses; however, on February 25 witnesses told American officials that they had seen Vergara’s body hanging from a tree near Hidalgo, and that it had been there since February 15. Vergara’s body was finally “delivered” to his relatives in Texas on March 7. Vergara’s murder outraged Texans and increased tension between Mexico and the United States.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 14TH

Arizona’s Federico José María Ronstadt Big Businessman

George Wiley Paul Hunt walked from his Phoenix hotel to the Capitol on Feb. 14, 1912 to be sworn in as Arizona’s first governor. The F. Ronstadt Co., Tucson’s leading wagon maker, was so buoyed by the economic prosperity it expected to follow statehood that it announced plans that February to build a new 4,000-square-foot shop. The company’s namesake, Federico José María Ronstadt, had arrived 30 years earlier. His father brought the 14-year old from Mexico to apprentice at a blacksmith shop. Hunt and Ronstadt were among the 200,000 people living in Arizona on that Valentine’s Day 1912 when it became the 48th state. It was a prize Arizonans had hoped for since shortly after President Abraham Lincoln declared Arizona a territory, separate from New Mexico, in 1863. Arizona celebrated its centennial on Feb. 14, 2012. Ronstadt remained both a business and community leader until his death in 1954, and descendants continue that tradition to this day.

Spanish nobleman calls for settlement of Texas

On this day in 1729, the Marqués de Aguayo proposed to the king of Spain that 400 families be transported from the Canary Islands, Galicia, or Havana to populate the province of Texas. Eventually some fifteen families from the Canary Islands came to Texas. The first of the Canary Islanders arrived at Presidio San Antonio de Béxar on March 9, 1731. The immigrants formed the nucleus of the villa of San Fernando de Béxar, the first regularly organized civil government in Texas. Several of the old families of San Antonio trace their descent from the Canary Island colonists.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 13TH

Spanish language newspaper debuts in San Antonio

On this day in 1913, Ignacio E. Lozano founded La Prensa, a Spanish-language daily newspaper published in San Antonio to address the needs of Mexicans residing temporarily in the United States who wished to follow events in Mexico, which was engulfed in the Mexican Revolution. As the voice of “el Mexico de Afuera” (“Mexico Abroad”), La Prensa linked that community of Mexicans on the outside with the homeland. It provided coverage of Mexican national political events an well as analysis and criticism; it announced activities of Mexican and Mexican-American organizations; and it always reflected admiration and even reverence for Mexico and its people. It sometimes defended Mexicans and Mexican Americans from abuse. Above all, La Prensa promoted and expressed patriotic fervor for the homeland.The paper was sold all over South Texas and in communities of Mexican emigrés elsewhere in the United States and Central and South America.The last issue of La Prensa, by now a bilingual tabloid, was published on January 31, 1963, just two weeks short of the paper’s fiftieth anniversary. 

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 10TH

“Madam Candelaria” dies at age 113

On this day in 1899, Andrea Castañón Villanueva (Madam Candelaria), who claimed to be a survivor of the battle of the Alamo, died at age 113 in San Antonio. She said she had been born in Laredo in 1785, though other sources say she was born at Presidio del Río Grande. She came to San Antonio when she was about twenty-five and married Candelario Villanueva, who she said was her second husband; thereafter she became known as Madam or Señora Candelaria. She was the mother of four children and raised twenty-two orphans. She nursed the sick and aided the poor. She claimed to have been in the Alamo during the 1836 battle and to have nursed the ailing Jim Bowie. Since evidence of survivors is sparse, her claims may never be confirmed, but in 1891 the Texas legislature granted her a pension of twelve dollars a month for being an Alamo survivor and for her work with smallpox victims in San Antonio. Madam Candelaria is buried in San Fernando Cemetery.

Legislature confirms South Texas land grants

On this day in 1852, the Texas legislature confirmed the work of the Bourland Commission, a group of three officials appointed to investigate land claims after the Mexican War. The war’s outcome had brought into question the validity of numerous Spanish and Mexican land grants north of the Rio Grande. Against a complex backdrop that included agitation for making trans-Nueces Texas a separate country, Governor Peter Bell recommended that the legislature appoint a commission to investigate claims. The commission began its business in Laredo in mid-1850 and in February 1852 confirmed 234 grants in five South Texas counties to the original Spanish and Mexican grantees.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 8TH

Cleveland signs the Dawes Severalty Act

On this day in 1887, in a well-meaning but ultimately flawed attempt to assimilate Native Americans, President Grover Cleveland signs an act to end tribal control of reservations and divide their land into individual holdings.

Named for its chief author, Senator Henry Laurens Dawes from Massachusetts, the Dawes Severalty Act reversed the long-standing American policy of allowing Indian tribes to maintain their traditional practice of communal use and control of their lands.  Instead, the Dawes Act gave the president the power to divide Indian reservations into individual, privately owned plots.  The act dictated that men with families would receive 160 acres, single adult men were given 80 acres, and boys received 40 acres.  Women received no land.

photo of Senator Henry Laurens Dawes

The most important motivation for the Dawes Act was Anglo-American hunger for Indian lands.  The act provided that after the government had doled out land allotments to the Indians, the sizeable remainder of the reservation properties would be opened for sale to whites.  Consequently, Indians eventually lost 86 million acres of land, or 62 percent of their total pre-1887 holdings.

Still, the Dawes Act was not solely a product of greed.  Many religious and humanitarian “friends of the Indian” supported the act as a necessary step toward fully assimilating the Indians into American culture.  Reformers believed that Indians would never bridge the chasm between “barbarism and civilization” if they maintained their tribal cohesion and traditional ways. J.D.C. Atkins, commissioner of Indian affairs, argued that the Dawes Act was the first step toward transforming, “Idleness, improvidence, ignorance, and superstition… into industry, thrift, intelligence, and Christianity.”

In reality, the Dawes Severalty Act proved a very effective tool for taking lands from Indians and giving it to Anglos, but the promised benefits to the Indians never materialized.  Racism, bureaucratic bungling, and inherent weaknesses in the law deprived the Indians of the strengths of tribal ownership, while severely limiting the economic viability of individual ownership.  Many tribes also deeply resented and resisted the government’s heavy-handed attempt to destroy their traditional cultures.

Despite these flaws, the Dawes Severalty Act remained in force for more than four decades.  In 1934, the Wheeler-Howard Act repudiated the policy and attempted to revive the centrality of tribal control and cultural autonomy on the reservations.  The Wheeler-Howard Act ended further transfer of Indian lands to Anglos and provided for a return to voluntary communal Indian ownership, but considerable damage had already been done.

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 7TH

Seguin Incorporates

On this day in 1853, the town of Seguin was officially incorporated. This South Texas seat of Guadalupe County saw settlement as early as the 1830s, and founders originally called the site Walnut Springs before changing the name to Seguin in honor of Tejano revolutionary and Texas Republic senator Juan Nepomuceno Seguín in 1839. The town enjoyed a rich agricultural landscape and ample water resources thanks to the nearby Guadalupe and San Marcos rivers and Cibolo and Geronimo creeks. Its original schoolhouse, built in 1850, was still used for educational purposes well over 100 years later, when the state recognized the structure as the oldest continuously used school building in Texas. Texas Lutheran College relocated to Seguin in 1912, and the town’s economy experienced a major upswing with the discovery of oil in the nearby Darst Creek fields in the late 1920s. Throughout the twentieth century the community supported agricultural, oil-based, and manufacturing interests. In 2000 Seguin had a population of 22,011.

1883 — Birthday of Jessie Marion Koogler McNay, whose willed her estate and Spanish colonial mansion to found the first modern art museum in San Antonio.

1959: The United States recognizes Fidel Castro as head of Cuba

THIS DAY IN LATINO AMERICAN HISTORY FEBRUARY 6TH

Frenchman, considered a troublemaker by the Spanish, dies in prison

On this day in 1756, Joseph Blancpain, a French trader whose activities in Texas heightened bad feeling between France and Spain in the middle of the eighteenth century, died in prison in Mexico City. Blancpain had been arrested in 1754 by Spanish army lieutenant Marcos Ruiz for unauthorized trading with Indians, to whom he was evidently furnishing firearms. The Spanish authorities believed him to be an agent for the French government. As a result of Blancpain’s activities the king of Spain ordered that any Frenchman found in Spanish territory would be imprisoned.

1899: US Congress ratified the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War

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