politics

William Velásquez Fought For You To Vote So Vote

@CarlosUresti / Twitter / @lifewjess / Twenty20

Mexican-American William Velásquez is truly one of the unsung heroes of the Latino civil rights movement. Not only did he work alongside Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez with the United Farm Workers, Velásquez also dedicated much of his short life to ensure that Latinos were politically active and able to vote. As the elections inch closer and closer, it is important to remember not just the man, but his legacy. There is even a new documentary on PBS, “Willie Velásquez: Your Vote Is Your Voice,” telling his story.

William Velásquez dedicated his life to making sure Latinos could participate in the political process.


Velásquez worked tirelessly with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta for farm worker rights before moving on to establish the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (SVREP).  At the time of its founding, Velásquez was fighting against poll taxes, gerrymandering and pure intimidation being used to block Latinos from using their voice in elections.

“Willie Velasquez’s work brought millions of Latinos into the political process, both as voters and as candidates,” filmmaker Hector Galán told KPBS about his documentary on Velásquez. “As we go through this current election cycle, it’s important to look back at how far the Latino electorate has come and how our vote continues to truly be our voice.”

Velásquez is the founder of both the Mexican American Youth Organization (1968) and Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (1974).


He went even further than just starting two organizations to get young Latinos mobilized to vote. Velásquez helped found La Raza Unida Party to further give Latinos a chance to join in the political system to enact change from within. In the 1970s, his activism was taking off. Having just left the UFW, Velásquez became one of the first people to use a computer to electronically collect voter registration information.

In 1988, as his career as a political activist for Latinos was reaching its peak, he died of kidney cancer.


Velásquez’s work was not unnoticed by national politicians. In 1995, Velásquez was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian honor — by then-President Bill Clinton.

“His name was William C. Velasquez, but everyone knew him as Willie,” President Clinton said at the time, according to KPBS. “Willie was and is now a name synonymous with democracy in America. From the farm fields of California, where he organized workers with Cesar Chavez, to the halls of Harvard, where he taught politics, Willie Velasquez was driven by an unwavering belief that every American should have a role in our democracy and a share in the opportunities of our great nation.”

So, in this political season when you hear some politicians demonize the Latino community, remember your role.

Election 2016 / GIPHY
CREDIT: Election 2016 / GIPHY

Do what Rosie Perez says, and millions have fought so hard for, and vote!

Election 2016 / GIPHY
CREDIT: Election 2016 / GIPHY

Countless Latinos have fought hard in the past for your right to vote. Don’t squander it by sitting at home this November.


READ: The ‘Alicia Machado Effect’: This Is How Former Miss Universe Impacted Voter Registration

Register to vote today by downloading the Latinos Vote app for iOS and Android. Our voice matters. #WeAreAmerica

The Smithsonian’s Interest in Detained Children’s Drawings Draws Criticism

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The Smithsonian’s Interest in Detained Children’s Drawings Draws Criticism

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is considering adding pictures drawn by immigrant children in detention centers. The images drawn by detained eight and nine-year-olds were taken and released to the public last week by members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (A.A.P.) who visited migrant children at Catholic respite center in McAllen Texas. The children who had been recently released from Texas detention centers, made drawings done in black and dark green on what appears to be white canvas. Each drawing depicts bars. In one drawing people are depicted sleeping on the floor covered in blankets (most likely rendering of the ‘solar blankets’ issued in the detention centers). In this drawing, a person with a hat, standing at a desk, is depicted in the background.

Another drawing depicts an elaborate rendering of the metal pen used to house migrants, complete with toilets, wire walls, ceiling, and a closed door.

Laura Duff, a spokesperson for the Smithsonian confirmed the museum’s interest in the drawings to NPR stating that their goal for American History collections is to tell the story of American History as it unfolds in order to document the complexities. Brent Glass, director emeritus of the museum, doesn’t believe that exploring the possibility of acquiring detained migrant children’s drawings is a political decision. He said that the American History Museum’s goal is “to inspire people to know more about American history and to hopefully create a more humane society.”

Sara Goza, the incoming president of-of A.A.P., who was invited  by custom officials to tour detention centers in Texas, reported noticing terrible conditions as soon as officials opened the door, “When they opened the door for us to go into the facility, the first thing was the smell — a mixture between urine and sweat and feces,” and she reported seeing children who looked afraid and some wearing blank expressions. One photo of a drawing made by a child at the facility depicts the described blank expressions.

Goza who asserted that the trauma of detainment can have long-lasting emotional effects on children said, “First and foremost, as pediatricians, the A.A.P. is convinced that children don’t belong in Customs and Border Control facilities.”

Still, many Twitter users have taken issue with the museum for considering an exhibit while not putting forth a greater effort to put an end to the detainment of children that is currently taking place.

On the other side of the aisle, of course, are the many Trump supporters who are using these images as an opportunity to put blame on the migrant children’s parents.

One user by the name of Gaston Olvera responded by saying that being interested in drawings won’t do anything to help detained migrant children.

Others have replied with the hope that the images will serve as a reminder.

One user suggested that the drawings should be preserved as a record of the Trump administration’s cruelty:

Others expressed their belief that the images were indulgent.

Coneja called a collection of drawings in the Smithsonian “tragedy porn.”

Sadly, many conservatives are using the display as a moment to criticize those who are most vulnerable and who are being victimized.

@Dreamladakh2 bashed migrants. Perhaps forgetting that he was talking about children, he said, “Yeah let the potential criminals and terrorists come in just because they made a sad painting.”

Many are calling the Smithsonian’s images the equivalent of “fake news.”

And while many, like user @techwiz711, have expressed a belief that the drawings were coerced, saying that “children don’t draw the same unless directed.”

However, according to the article “Child’s Psychology—What Do Your Child’s Drawings and Scribbles Mean?” there are definite patterns and similarities in children’s drawings, similarities that can be analyzed and offer insight into a child’s state of mind.

Perhaps the Smithsonian’s interest in migrant children’s drawing is a case of “too soon,” and if created without the greatest sensitivity, the exhibit could appear to exploit human suffering.  Further information about the drawings and the conditions under which they were created would be important information to provide. However, drawing as a form of therapy, or expressing feelings about harsh experiences, such as the ones detailed in the drawings by migrant children can tell us a lot about the effects of trauma and illustrate how children see and understand a lot more than most adults realize.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And Her Congresswomen Squad Clap Back At Trump’s Racist Words

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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And Her Congresswomen Squad Clap Back At Trump’s Racist Words

Zach Gibson / Stringer / Getty Images

By now, you’ve probably already seen the racist temper tantrum that Donald Trump unleashed over the weekend through a series of tweets the morning of July 14th. Of course, and sadly, it’s no longer that much of a surprise when the commander-in-chief of our country strays away from the norm and goes on a Twitter ramble and attacks a person or says something racist. This time, however, he proved he messed with the wrong people.

Because, in his latest bigoted explosion, the president targeted Congressional women of color.

In a series of tweets, the commander-in-chief accused what he called “‘Progressive’ Democrat congresswomen” of being from foreign countries with governments full of corruption.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came… you can’t leave fast enough.”

The level of xenophobia and incompetence in these tweets is really mind-boggling. Democrats and progressives were quick to denounce the bigoted words of the president but —  unsurprisingly — there was no such outrage from the far-right. 

The presidents tweets were aimed at Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as well as her fellow congresswomen Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Rashida Tlaib — also known as “The Squad.” It’s from the strong women that we have seen the most powerful responses to the president’s words.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez didn’t hold back in her assessment of Trump and his racist agenda.

Twitter / @aoc

First, AOC pointed out that the country she is from and the country she serves is, in fact, America — the same country our president represents. She then went on to say that Trump was absolutely right, but not in the way he thinks. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez called out the inhuman corruption at our nation’s southern border — corruption that is government sanctioned. Her observation pinned responsibility of this tragedy on Trump and the American government; the government she and fellow congresswomen are trying to hold accountable. 

Representative Ocasio-Cortez went on to point out that she and The Squad were all elected by an America the Trump administration doesn’t want to recognize. 

Twitter / @aoc

Unlike the current American president, these women were elected by popular vote. As such, they pledged to represent ALL citizens in their districts. The Trump administration has shown time and time again that they only care about the wealthy elite and the white conservatives who’s numbers keep them in power. As the representative observed, the president relies on the America that can be manipulated by hate-mongering, not the America that is pushing for inclusion and representation. 

She summed up her clap back by exposing the president for the angry, insecure man he is. 

Twitter / @aoc

The president uses threats and intimidation to manipulate anyone who he sees as a problem. Yet, those techniques have proven ineffective against AOC and The Squad. Together, they have called out the Trump administration for their crimes and deceit. They aren’t afraid of the persona that the president tries to push. In conclusion, she said he can just stay mad about it. We can definitely see the imaginary shrug emoji at the end of this statement. 

AOC wasn’t the only one to reply to the president’s racist tweets; Representative Ilhan Omar had something to say as well. 

Twitter / @IlhanMn

The congresswoman from Minneapolis didn’t hold back when she called the president the “worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen.” She also clearly linked his statements and actions to his approval of White Nationalism. The Trump administration has been notoriously lax about Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist actions in our country and his xenophobic rhetoric continues to be examples of this policy. In conclusion, Rep. Omar quoted Robert Kennedy in saying the only way to oppose the intolerant is with the freedom of diversity. 

Representative Ayanna Pressley kept her response short, vicious and accurate. 

Twitter / @AyannaPressley

The Massachusetts representative outright declared that the president’s words were “what racism looks like.” She responded that the defiance and change that she and The Squad represent are what democracy is made of. Representative Pressley ended her response by writing that the only place she and the fellow congresswomen are going is back to DC to fight for marginalized communities. 

Representative Rashida Tlaib took Trumps words as a challenge. 

Twitter / @RashidaTlaib

Michigan’s Rep. Rashida Tlaib wasn’t pulling any punches in her response. Right off the bat, the congresswoman called Trump a “lawless & complete failure of a President” and declared that he needed to be impeached for his crimes. She went on to tweet that she is proud of her Palestinian roots and her district. Representative Tlaib concluded that if the president continued on his attacks, it would only backfire and encourage the representative to work even harder.

In response to their diafiance, the president went on another Twitter rant full of the same old racism. We’ll be cheering The Squad on and watch to see how this ongoing conflict unfolds. These congresswomen are not backing down and we’re glad to have them in Washington DC to fight for us. When our representation looks like we do as a nation, legislation is passed for the greater good, not for the good of the select few. That’s how it should be. 

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