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

National Scholars Consider the Event that Created Latino Politics

It was an occasion to remember.  Nov. 21, 1963. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy traveled to Houston and its famed Rice Hotel to appear before the League of United Latin American Citizens. Texas Gov. John Connally and San Antonio Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez 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.  Viva Kennedy

Now 50 years later, a community remembers that impactful day and the legacy it created. 

The University of Houston 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. He was the first major presidential candidate to cultivate our vote.  We responded by establishing the ‘Viva Kennedy Clubs’ and encouraging our community to vote for him,” said Tatcho Mindiola, professor and director of CMAS. “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.”  JFKandJackie

The symposium features discussions from national scholars:
•    Ignacio Garcia, professor of Western and Latino History, 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”
•    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”
Audience members also will have opportunities to participate in question-and-answer sessions with panelists.

For more information on the UH Center for Mexican American Studies, visit

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