Willie Velásquez was a genuine American hero. Through his tireless efforts over more than 21/2 decades, he irrevocably changed the Latino political condition in the United States.
Nearly 1,000 voter registration and education drives and 85 successful voting rights lawsuits had put Willie and his organization, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, at the forefront of an almost unnoticed revolution taking place across the country by the mid-1980s. The body of work that Velásquez and Southwest Voter accomplished resulted in a doubling of the number of Latino voters and elected officials during this period. ...
Willie and Southwest Voter's stories need to be told because their low-key, research-based, grass-roots-led voter registration and education work helped dramatically alter the political map of the Southwest. This work brought unprecedented numbers of Latino Americans into the ballot box and, more importantly, into American political life.
Willie used to say that Southwest Voter did not do voter registration by press conference, and for that reason, its highly successful approach consistently took place under the radar screen. Southwest Voter and Willie were not common household names. -- Champion of Latinos and democracy (mySA.com)
This is an excerpt from the preface to the recently published book "The Life and Times of Willie Velásquez: Su Voto Es Su Voz" by Juan A. Sepúlveda Jr.