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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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The Voting Rights Act Extension And The Political Legacies Of Racial Exclusion
Program #

Elections, Politics
Linda Fregoso
Carlos Truan, Richard Avena
Sep 8, 1981

The Voting Rights Act Extension and the Political Legacies of Racial Exclusion

Richard Avena, a regional director for the Southwest Office of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Texas State Senator Carlos Truan discuss the implication of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) for Chicano voters and its impending expiration. The VRA contains several provisions that are designed to protect minority voters in states with a history of discrimination. Avena explains that while these provisions have increased minority participation, there are still problems with the voting system and the commission has recommended that the VRA be extended for another ten years. Avena then discusses some of the factors that contribute to Chicano low voter turn-out. He also looks at other states that have not complied with the VRA and describes some of the problems they face. He believes President Reagan favors renewing the act, but fears that if he decreases the federal bureaucracy, as he has promised, he will limit the Justice Department’s ability to enforce the act.

Fregoso next speaks with Truan, who argues that extending the VRA is necessary to protect voters, and he discusses the history of voter discrimination in Texas. He explains that the act has helped improve minority representation in politics, but there are still many problems with gerrymandering and other tactics designed to limit minority influence in Texas. Truan also explains how the VRA includes a provision ensuring that any election laws must be cleared by the Department of Justice, which gives Chicanos and other minorities an avenue to protect their rights. He believes the Justice Department has done a good job of protecting voters’ rights, and he is working to make sure the act is extended.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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