It has been four decades since La Raza Unida Party changed the way Texas votes. Until 1972, the Mexican American electorate was all but ignored by both major political parties. Even after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 people of Mexican descent — and Latin@s in general — were prohibited from voting through literacy tests and language barriers. In the late 1960s a group of college students, activists from the Farmworkers movement, and other dedicated public servants joined forces to organize an alternative political party that would seek to address many of the issues disenfranchised Mexican Americans faced at the time.
The LRUP, after a couple years of organizing, nominated a slate of candidates for the 1972 state elections. They changed the political world in Texas, and arguably across the Southwest. The LRUP made the Texas Democratic and Republican parties wake up and see the importance of the Mexican American — and Latin@ — electorate. Now, with Texas Latin@ voters pushing the 1 in 4 registered voters mark, this section of the electorate is critical to those seeking elected office. From local races to the presidential race, Latin@s and Mexican Americans in Texas are what elections are now made of.
The election year of 1972 was huge. Nixon was reelected, McGovern lost, and the LRUP shook the state and nation with their showing in Texas elections. This year, at the cusp of another change-the-world election, La Raza Unida Party reunites to reflect on the days when they changed the world. The weekend of July 6th and 7th, 2012, LRUP founding members, activists, and candidates will gather in Austin at Mexitas Mexican Restaurant to reminisce, catch-up, and share their stories with those of us who are eager to hear their story.
Here’s an excerpt from the announcement website:
La Raza Unida Party was a direct political response by those who felt political power was long over due. When La Raza Unida Party in Texas began winning elections, there were those who felt, :”If we don’t stop those Mexicans now, no telling what is going to happen.” As the party grew and spread from the rural areas to the cities, more and more candidates joined the effort. At one point, there were candiates running under or with the support of La Raza Unida Party in at least 10 counties in Texas.
What ever happened to all those who ran as candidates?
What happened to those who won and actually held office?
Where did all the activists go?
Only July 6th and 7th, 2012 there will be a reunion of all those who were part of el movimiento back in the 60s, and 1970s and dared to stand up and challenge the system.
This reunion will be held in Austin, Texas at Mexitas Mexican Restaurant and the adjacent bingo hall next door which is located at IH 35 Freeway and 12th Street in downtown Austin.