Vote Aquí Hoy: The 1975 Extension of the Voting Rights Act and the Creation of Language Minorities

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Abstract

The year 1975 marked a watershed year for Spanish-surnamed people in the United States and their relationship with the federal government. In that year Congress extended the Voting Rights Act to include a language minority category, requiring federal election officials to translate election materials under certain conditions. By validating language rights for language minorities, Congress expanded federal voting protections far beyond African Americans. Advocates for Spanish speakers took up the cause before Congress, which created a new federally protected category based on the long history of discrimination in education and society they collected in testimonies. These language protections catered largely to Spanish speakers, though the category also included Alaska Natives, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. The process of gaining a separate language minority status is explored in this article, which explains how Congress chose to create a law that included Spanish speakers by name.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-90
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Policy History
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

Keywords

  • Congress
  • Hispanic
  • Mexican American
  • Puerto Rican
  • Spanish
  • Spanish speaking
  • civil rights
  • language minorities
  • language politics
  • voting rights

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