JFK's Last Night Recalled as Key Event for Latinos

By: RUSSELL CONTRERAS Email
By: RUSSELL CONTRERAS Email

President John F. Kennedy was supposed to just stop by and wave hello.

Instead, a group of eager Latinos persuaded him to come inside and speak to a packed room of Mexican-American civil rights activists. And then he persuaded his wife, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, to address the crowd in Spanish.

It was Nov. 21, 1963.

Hours later, the president was dead. And his assassination overshadowed the significance of a speech that can be seen as the birth of the Latino vote - which was so instrumental in 2012 in helping re-elect the first black president, Barack Obama.

To historians, Kennedy's appearance at the Rice Ballroom in Houston was likely the first time that a president officially acknowledged Latinos as an important voting bloc.


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