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In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized Congress to proclaim a National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was expanded in 1988 to an entire month between the days of September 15th and October 15th. During this period, we are able to celebrate the independence days of Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Chile, as well as Columbus Day or Día de la Raza.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to recognize the rich history and many contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States. Through their resilient commitment to family, friends, and faith, Hispanics have helped to shape what it means to be an American. Arguably, no state has been more influenced by Hispanics than right here in Texas.

Hispanics have played an integral role in the shaping of Texas since the area was claimed for Spain in 1519. Their historical impact is obvious in the many cities, counties, and landmarks of Spanish etymology throughout the state, not to mention Texas' world-famous Tex-Mex cuisine and Tejano music. We should also recognize the legacy of great Hispanics such as Dr. Hector P. García, Minerva Delgado, and the Honorable Henry B. González that have fought for fair and equal treatment of Hispanics in Texas and across the nation.

Today, Texas is home to some of the most thriving and vibrant Hispanic communities in the nation. Hispanics make up more than 38% of the state's population, and with that figure steadily increasing, it is imperative for Hispanics to recognize that we can be a dominant voice in the future of Texas. But in order to be heard, we must speak. Tu Voto es Tu Voz.

I have fought throughout my entire career to eliminate voting barriers and to encourage the Hispanic community to voice their opinions at the ballot box. Voting is a fundamental right and I will continue to fight to protect and expand this right to all Texans. Through the ballot box we must speak with our votes to ensure that our children have every possible opportunity available to them.. This is why I am so committed to expanding the voting turnout for all Hispanics in this state. We cannot allow those that seek to suppress our voice to be successful. Our future depends on you to vote and be heard. Tu Voto es Tu Voz.

Despite the great achievements of our Hispanic community, there is still much to be accomplished. Recent election cycles have produced political rhetoric that I find truly disheartening to Hispanics. Once again, there are those who seek to vilify Hispanics and portray us as Un-American. Yet, Hispanics consistently have one of the lowest voting turnouts in the state. I hope that this month will inspire us all to fight back like so many great Hispanics have before and stop the demonization of our community. If we speak together, we can send a message of pride and power that will resonate throughout the state. Tu Voto es Tu Voz.     

Expanding voter turnout and improving civic engagement is the key to ensuring that Hispanics are treated with the respect and dignity they rightfully deserve. The voices of our large and growing community should and will be heard through the power of our vote! Let us speak loud and clear by voting in the next election on November 3rd or during early voting beginning October 19th. ¡Tu Voto es Tu Voz!