The 1963 birth of the Latino vote


Despite widespread belief that Barak Obama‘s 2012 reelection campaign was when the Latino vote “finally [awakened]” in a U.S. presidential election, John F. Kennedy has him beat with his 1963 race to return to the Oval Office.

President John F. Kennedy. Source:

According to The Huffington Post Latino Voices, the Latino vote earned respect from politicians much earlier than most believe. Historians credit Kennedy with being the first to “officially [acknowledge]” this “important voting bloc” when he made a speech in the Rice Ballroom in Houston in November 1963.

Kennedy earned the votes of many Hispanic in his 1960 race to the White House, especially Mexican-Americans who gave him 85 percent of their vote. When Kennedy failed to appoint Latinos during his administration, he faced backlash from the community that helped him. When it came time to start campaigning for reelection in 1964 and a close race at that, Kennedy knew he had to soothe the waters with his Hispanic supporters.

The president made a trip to the Lone Star State in 1963. While there, Kennedy was advised he should make an appearance at a League of United Latin American Citizens (the “largest Latino civil rights group in the country” at that time) gala in Houston. The activists hosting the event were excited about a visit from the president, but could not advertise his coming since it was not part of his official schedule.

Kennedy showed up to the Rice Ballroom with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson. The president delivered a speech about “foreign policy in Latin America” and the importance of the civil rights group to whom he was speaking. Then, the first lady spoke in Spanish about the shared history of Latinos and Texas. The crowd shouted “Viva Kennedy!” in response to both speeches.

Thus, the acknowledgement of the Latino vote as an important force in American politics was born.

Latino voting numbers are growing. Source: CNN

Latinos have gone on to influence a number of “presidential elections for more than 50 years,” but they seem to be “attracting attention in 2012” because “Latinos are now the largest minority group in the U.S.” and “voter participation is up.”

Hispanic voters will only continue to grow in their presence and their influence in American politics. It will be in ways outside of the voting booth too, with more Latinos running for office, supporting their favorite candidates as campaign volunteers and being activists than ever before.

The U.S. has come a long way in its approach to race and ethnicity. Despite the challenges the Latinos faces now or in the future, at least members of the community know they have the power of democracy behind them.

The power of the vote is in every American’s favor, regardless of race and/or ethnicity.

Source: The Huffington Post Latino Voices

See Jackie Kennedy speak to Latino voters for the 1960 election in Spanish:

Source: YouTube

SPARK Magazine The Variety post: A New York Holiday in Austin’s 2nd Street District

Austin’s very own 2nd Street District offers a New York kind of holiday with an amazing window display competition that showcases fashion and the spirit of the holidays.

Read about it here!

Dreaming of a White Christmas (Holiday Walk 2011) at Gallery D

Fewer Latinos at UT Austin?


The University of Texas at Austin has long been fighting the Top Ten Percent law and now that the college’s wish has been partially granted, the number of Latinos admitted into the university may drop.

The UT Austin campus. Source: Portal to Public Health at UT Austin

According to a story released by The Houston Chronicle, UT Austin will only take the top 7 percent of graduating classes for the summer/fall 2014 semesters. The 2013 (and 2011) UT Austin freshmen were admitted by the top 8 percent and the freshmen for 2012 were admitted by the top 9 percent.

The changes to the Top Ten Percent law for UT Austin were due to allowing the university to allocate only 75 percent of the incoming freshmen slots to be filled by automatic Texas resident admission. A change that was welcomed by the school in order to allow the admissions office a chance to offer other students a chance into the school based on other criteria, which includes ethnicity.

But what does this all mean for Latinos?

Under the Top Ten Percent law, 29 percent of the 5,432 admitted students to UT Austin were Latino. The other quarter of the incoming class admitted by other criteria only had 13 percent of 2,660 students be made up of Latinos.

Will we see less of Latino/Latina students at UT Austin in the future? Source:

The law was originally created and passed in order to increase minority student numbers at Texas universities. The problem that has arisen from this law, which is the same problem UT Austin has with it, is that there are too many students in this Top Ten Percent pool applying to mainly two schools: UT Austin and Texas A&M. There are too many students demanding too few spots and the universities have no choice but to turn away other students in order to comply with the state law by admitting the overflow of Top Ten Percent kids.

It seems that no matter which way you go, whether we keep the Top Ten Percent law or we do away with it completely, some students are going to lose out while others gain new opportunities. It’s a sticky situation and no one person or organization seems to have an exact answer on how to solve it.

How can we make sure everyone gets an opportunity to graduate college? Source: PHLMetropolis

I think the changes to the admission policies at UT Austin will certainly have an effect on the number of Latinos admitted to the university. At the same time, I think the admission policy changes will have an effect on all future applicants to the university, not just the ones with a Hispanic background.

UT Austin is wanting more freedom to admit students they feel deserve an opportunity to go to school who may not have been the best at academics. The argument is that a school should be able to admit a talented musician into its music school so they can grow in their music and have a prolific career instead of having to turn them away for a student who was part of their school’s Top Ten Percent. Or that a college can increase the diversity of talents on its campus by admitting students with talents outside of academia. Then, there are also those students who have better GPAs than other admitted UT Austin freshmen, but who were just outside the Top Ten Percent of their graduating class.

I think we have moved past the days where we had to worry that institutions would not admit certain people because of racial, gender or any discrimination. I especially believe that to be true of our higher education institutions were progressive thinking, education and contributing to the betterment of society are key goals.

Let UT Austin and other universities have says in who they admit. The schools obviously have good reasons for wanting their admission policies certain ways so we should hear them out. We can monitor the policies to make sure they do not discriminate any groups. These colleges want what is best for their students, for their staff/faculty and for society.

With the number of Latinos in the United States and especially in Texas growing, it is inevitable that the number of Latinos applying and being admitted into college will grow. More Latinos continue to pursue higher education now than ever before so their presence on university campuses will become more abundant. We just have to wait and watch the numbers grow.

Source: Huffington Post Latino Voices Latino Politics

Former state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos discuss the passing of the Top Ten Percent law:

Source: YouTube