50th Anniversary

For 50 years, MALDEF has been at work to achieve some of the most important legal victories advancing the civil rights of Latinos in the United States.

 

Photo Credit: George Rodriguez

Become one of our 50th Anniversary Heroes. Donate to commemorate our anniversary.

Contact gmontoya@MALDEF.org to find out how.

Become one of our 50th Anniversary Heroes. Donate to commemorate our anniversary. Contact gmontoya@MALDEF.org to find out how.

Events

 

50th Anniversary Kick-off with Panel Discussion

Thursday, September 27, 2018
The Westin Riverwalk
420 W Market Street
San Antonio, TX 78205
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MALDEF's 50th Anniversary San Antonio Awards Gala

Friday, September 28, 2018
The Westin Riverwalk
420 W Market Street
San Antonio, TX 78205
Read More

MALDEF's 50th Anniversary Los Angeles Awards Gala

Thursday, November 8, 2018
JW Marriot at L.A. Live
90 West Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Read More

Awards

 

MALDEF's 50th Anniversary Washington D.C. Awards Gala

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Washington D.C.
Read More

Event Tickets

This month in MALDEF History

MALDEF is celebrating its 50th anniversary as the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Read about our history through our blogs.

MALDEF History

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) opened its doors on August 1, 1968 in San Antonio, Texas. Inspired by the civil-rights era legal battles mounted on behalf of the African American community and knowledgeable of the pervasive discrimination against Latinos, lawyers and community activists throughout the southwestern United States launched efforts to create a legal organization to serve the Latino community.

MALDEF was consciously modeled on the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Indeed, MALDEF got off the ground thanks in large part to the generous guidance and assistance offered by the legendary civil rights attorney Jack Greenberg, who was then the LDF’s Director-Counsel.

Over the course of our 50-year history, MALDEF’s litigation and advocacy efforts have spurred reforms and led to new laws and policies with wide-ranging impact for the Latino community and the nation as a whole. Whether on the streets or in schools, in boardrooms or living rooms, in legislative chambers or courthouses right up to the U.S. Supreme Court, MALDEF has earned its reputation as the civil rights law firm of the Latino community.

History Timeline

 

  • 1967
  • 1968
  • 1968
  • 1968
  • 1970
  • 1970
  • 1973
  • 1973
  • 1975
  • 1982
  • 1982
  • 1985
  • 1986
  • 1989
  • 1991
  • 1995
  • 2004
  • 2004
  • 2004
  • 2006
  • 2006
  • 2009
  • 2012
  • 2012
  • 2015
  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 1967

    With guidance from Jack Greenberg, Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, attorney Pete Tijerina meets with Bill Pincus from the Ford Foundation to discuss funding a new organization.

  • August 1968

    MALDEF opens its doors in San Antonio, Texas after receiving a $2.2 million grant from the Ford Foundation to spend over five years. The organization, formed by civil rights attorneys and community members, dedicates all of its resources to fight discrimination on the job, in schools, and to increase Latino participation in the political process while denouncing racist actions by law enforcement and the courts.

  • August 1968

    Pete Tijerina is named executive director of MALDEF, and Mario Obledo is named general counsel.

  • December 1968

    MALDEF draws public attention after a judge rules that school officials in Hidalgo County, Texas violated the First Amendment rights of students expelled from Edcouch-Elsa High School after boycotting classes in protest of school district policies. MALDEF attorneys represented the students.

  • 1970

    MALDEF moves its headquarters to San Francisco, California.

  • 1970

    Mario G. Obledo is named president and general counsel of MALDEF.

  • 1973

    Vilma S. Martinez is named president and general counsel of MALDEF.

  • White v. Regester (1973)

    In MALDEF’s first major national voting rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a lower court ruling finding multi-member voting districts in Texas are discriminatory and must be redrawn to allow Latinos and African Americans the chance to elect their own representatives.

  • Federal Voting Rights Act (1975)

    MALDEF succeeds in persuading Congress to extend voting rights protections to Latinos a decade after the 1965 Voting Rights Act was signed into law. The 1975 extension of the VRA leads to the establishment of bilingual ballots and other efforts to ease disenfranchisement of Latinos.

  • 1982

    Joaquin G. Avila is named president and general counsel of MALDEF.

  • Plyler v. Doe (1982)

    MALDEF challenges a Texas law denying funding to educate some immigrants. The 1977 lawsuit leads to the landmark 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the constitutional right to a free K-12 public school education for all children regardless of immigration status.

  • 1985

    Antonia Hernandez is named president and general counsel of MALDEF.

  • 1986

    MALDEF moves its headquarters to Los Angeles.

  • Edgewood ISD v. Kirby (1989)

    MALDEF files a lawsuit  in 1984 on behalf of families and school districts challenging Texas’ discriminatory method of financing its schools. The lawsuit leads to a unanimous Texas Supreme Court ruling in 1989 declaring that the state’s finance system is unconstitutional. The case led to greater equity of school funding.

  • Garza v. County of Los Angeles (1991)

    MALDEF files a lawsuit that results in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a lower court’s decision that held the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had gerrymandered districts to exclude Latinos from gaining representation. The lawsuit leads to the election of Gloria Molina, the first Latina and first woman on the board in more than 115 years.

  • Gregorio T. v. Wilson (1995)

    MALDEF files a lawsuit that halts implementation of the 1994 California ballot measure Proposition 187. The anti-Latino measure denied public services, including enrollment in public schools, based on immigration status.

  • Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch (2004)

    MALDEF sues the national clothing retailer challenging recruiting and hiring practices that exclude minorities and women, in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit leads to revised policies and a $50 million settlement in November 2004.

  • 2004

    Ann Marie Tallman named president and general counsel of MALDEF.

  • Comité de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach (2004)

    MALDEF challenges a Redondo Beach anti-solicitation ordinance as a violation of the First Amendment guarantee of free expression. A district court and the en banc Ninth Circuit, on a 9-2 vote, conclude in 2011 that the ordinance is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the case in 2012.

  • 2006

    John D. Trasviña named president and general counsel of MALDEF.

  • LULAC v. Perry (2006)

    MALDEF’s 2004 lawsuit, GI Forum of Texas v. State of Texas, consolidated with three other lawsuits as League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, challenges the Texas Legislature’s 2003 redistricting plan. U.S. Supreme Court rules in 2006 that the plan denied Latino voters the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice, in violation of Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act.

  • 2009

    Thomas A. Saenz named president and general counsel of MALDEF.

  • Gonzalez v. Brewer (2012)

    MALDEF files suit in 2006 challenging Arizona Proposition 200, which requires voter registration applicants to provide proof of identity at the polls on Election Day. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voids Proposition 200 in 2010. In 2012, the Ninth Circuit agrees with MALDEF and strikes down portions of the law.

  • Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force v. Perry (2012)

    MALDEF files suit in 2011 in response to maps enacted by the Texas Legislature that failed to reflect Latino growth in the state through the creation of new Latino-majority districts. In March 2012, the district court issues interim congressional and state house plans for the 2012 election and creates two new Latino-majority congressional seats and one Latino-majority seat in the state House plan.

  • State of Texas v. United States (2015)

    MALDEF successfully moves to intervene in January 2015 in a lawsuit filed by Texas and 26 other states to President Obama’s November 2014 announcement of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. MALDEF represents three undocumented mothers living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

  • Luna v. Kern County Board of Supervisors (2018)

    A federal lawsuit filed by MALDEF in 2016 challenges a 2011 Kern County, California Board of Supervisors’ five-member districting plan, which includes only one district containing a majority of eligible Latino voters. A federal judge rules in 2018 that the plan unlawfully denies Latinos the right to elect candidates of their choice, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, leading to a settlement on a new districting plan. The case marks the first VRA lawsuit filed in California in more than a decade.

  • Martinez v. State of New Mexico (2018)

    MALDEF files a lawsuit in April 2014 on behalf of parents and families seeking to ensure New Mexico’s poor and at-risk children receive a sufficient education. A state court rules for the first time in New Mexico’s history that education is a fundamental right under the state constitution. The lawsuit leads to a state court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in July 2018.

This month in MALDEF History

MALDEF is celebrating its 50th anniversary as the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Read about our history.

MALDEF’s 50th Anniversary San Antonio Awards Gala Friday, September 28, 2018 The Westin Riverwalk 420 W Market Street San Antonio, TX 78205

MALDEF’s 50th Anniversary Los Angeles Awards Gala Thursday, November 8, 2018 JW Marriot at L.A. Live 90 West Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90015

MALDEF's 50th Anniversary San Antonio Awards Gala

Friday, September 28, 2018 The Westin Riverwalk 420 W Market Street San Antonio, TX 78205

Events

Thursday, September 27, 2018

50th Anniversary Kick-off with Panel Discussion

Friday, September 28, 2018

San Antonio 50th Anniversary Awards Gala

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Los Angeles 50th Anniversary Awards Gala

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Washington, D.C. 50th Anniversary Awards Gala

June, 2019

Chicago 50th Anniversary Awards Gala

Timeline

2018

Timeline Item 1

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2017

Timeline Item 2

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2016

Timeline Item 3

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Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund