The Latino community has lost a giant. Antonio Gonzalez, President of Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (SVREP) and the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI), succumbed to cancer on Sunday, November 11. He was battling cancer for some time, though many did not know. Most were shocked to hear of his passing.
You simply cannot be in politics and not know, understand, and appreciate the significance of the Latino vote and how important it is. And how much is owed to SVREP for spending decades registering Latinos not only all across the Southwest, but all over the country by way of training thousands of organizers all over the country to do the same in their communities.
For those that do not know, SVREP was founded in 1974 by William C. Velasquez, and is the largest and oldest non-partisan Latino voter participation organization in the U.S. The organization has done phenomenal work over the years and just look at the numbers:
“During Gonzalez’ tenure, SVREP has helped to triple Latino registration, from 5.4 million in 1994 to 15.3 million registrants in 2016, and increased Latino voting from nearly 4.9 million to 12.7 million during the 1994-2016 period.”
In 2005, Gonzalez was named in Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Latinos the quote taken from that article best describes where Antonio was at that point in the organization:
“The next challenge? “Our voters want to know, ‘How do we fix our schools, our parks, our health care, our jobs?’ We have to come up with solutions to raise our people from the bottom of the ladder.” Apropos, Gonzalez was influential in turning out California voters to approve more than $30 billion in new school bonds since 2002, and he’s revving up for a statewide pre-K initiative.”
The man was a brilliant progressive. He trained thousands over the years to organize and use data to get elected and also on how to be an elected official. Yes, it was about registering voters, but it was also about taking our seats at the table. The idea that Latinos should politically represent Latino communities! There was always a method to his madness.
It would be impossible for me to name all the accomplishments here on this short blog, but I encourage you to learn more about the organizations and their work and the life of Antonio Gonzalez. I simply wanted to make our readers aware of the great work and dedication by one man that literally changed the course of Latino leadership in our lifetime and how proud I am to have known him, worked with him, and learn from him.
The work is not done, we must continue the work that he showed us we need to do.
Rest in Power Antonio and give our regards to Willie…
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