William C. Velásquez was born in San Antonio and had a long career of political activism mostly in Texas before he died at the young age of 44 in 1988. Among his many accomplishments were the founding of several pivotal civil rights organizations in Texas, voter registration efforts, involvement in the farmworker unionization movement and teaching a class at Harvard University in southwestern politics.
Specifically, Velásquez was involved in founding: MAYO, the Mexican American Youth Organization, which worked in voter registration and mobilization; the movement that would become La Raza Unida Party, a political party founded to run Latino candidates in the civil rights era; he worked as a boycott coordinator for the UFW and then founded the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), which was dedicated to empowering Latinos through their voting power.
And perhaps most importantly, Velásquez inspired and helped mentor countless Latinos in the course of his work. He died young, but his legacy will live on for a long time to come.