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John F. Kennedy, LULAC and the Mexican American Vote: A CMAS Symposium

Nov. 20 event commemorates 50th anniversary of Latino politics catalyst

CMAS - Viva Kennedy  - image

It was an occasion to remember. 

On Nov. 21, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy traveled to Houston and appeared before the League of United Latin American Citizens in the famed Rice Hotel.

Texas Gov. John Connally and U.S. Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio also were present, as were Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird.

It was the first time an American president had addressed a Latino organization. Many consider the event to be the moment when Latino politics was born in the United States.

Tragically, the next day, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

Now 50 years later, a community remembers those impactful days and the legacy they created. 

The Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) is hosting a symposium, “President John F. Kennedy, LULAC and the Mexican American Vote,” at noon, Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Hilton University of Houston, Flamingo room.  The event is free and open to the public.

“President Kennedy holds a special place in the hearts of many Mexican Americans, many of whom still have pictures of him hung alongside images from their Catholic faith,” said Tatcho Mindiola, professor and director of CMAS.

“He was the first major presidential candidate to cultivate our vote,” he said. “We responded by establishing the ‘Viva Kennedy Clubs’ and encouraging our community to vote for him. That is why his visit to the LULAC banquet on November 21, 1963 was so special. Our symposium will highlight his importance to our community.”

The symposium features presentations by nationally-recognized scholars:

  • Michael Olivas, William B. Bates Distinguished Professor in Law, University of Houston Law Center: “A Primer on Latino Civil Rights Litigation in Texas, Post WWII”
  • Ignacio Garcia, professor of Western and Latino History at Brigham Young University:  “John F. Kennedy & the Viva Kennedy Clubs”
  • Cynthia Orozco, professor of History and Humanities, Eastern New Mexico University: “Houston LULAC, Jacqueline Kennedy, Carmen Cortez, Belen Robles and the National Presidency of LULAC”

WHAT: Center for Mexican American Studies’ Symposium, “President John F. Kennedy, LULAC and the Mexican American Vote”
WHEN:  Noon, Wednesday, Nov. 20
WHERE: Hilton University of Houston, Flamingo Room
For directions and parking information, visit 

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