Fifty years of an American institution
For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger.
UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that serves as the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through our unique combination of expert research, advocacy programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels.
In the midst of the American civil rights movement, Mexican American activists recognized the need for an institution around which Mexican Americans could rally and organize.
With the aim of bringing Mexican American groups together into a single unified front, Herman Gallegos, Dr. Julian Samora, and Dr. Ernesto Galarza established the Southwest
Council of La Raza in 1968 in Phoenix, Arizona. The founders remained integral to the organization’s success for decades after. Seven local groups formed the original network of Affiliates, beginning the organization’s legacy as a champion for Latino-serving community organizations.
In 1972, the Southwest Council was renamed the National Council of La Raza, or NCLR, and moved operations to Washington, DC, to establish its national influence. That same year, bylaws were amended to require equal representation of genders on the Board of Directors. In 1974, the Board chose Raul Yzaguirre to lead the organization, a position he held for 30 years.
By 1980, NCLR was the nation’s largest provider of technical assistance to Latino community-based organizations.
This grassroots perspective offered a real-world view of the major issues of the time, giving Hispanics a credible voice in Washington. The Policy Analysis Center was established to conduct research, testify on Capitol Hill, and provide expert advice in drafting legislation.
Congress sought NCLR’s expertise when drafting the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted legal status to nearly three million undocumented immigrants.
NCLR’s third decade emphasized the American Dream of a healthy home.
Advocacy led to expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and later creating the Child Tax Credit in 2002. Approximately 10 million Latino children have been lifted out of poverty because of these credits.
The NCLR Homeownership Network launched in 1997, providing counseling services to families dreaming of owning a home. Since then, 600,000 households have received counseling. NCLR also began a journey to improve Latino representation and opportunities in entertainment.
The NCLR Bravo Awards, later renamed the ALMA Awards®, first aired in 1995 during primetime on Fox.
The dawn of new millennium affirmed NCLR as a powerful DC institution.
After three decades of leadership, Raul Yzaguirre retired in 2004. The Board of Directors unanimously chose Janet Murguía as NCLR’s next President and CEO. Murguía’s tenure began with a nationwide listening tour, seeking advice from Affiliates on how to strengthen the NCLR-Affiliate
To cement its role as a major influence in Washington, in 2005 NCLR established a national headquarters building just four blocks from the White House.
Eager to inspire the next generation of advocates, civic engagement became a major priority for the organization.
Since 2008, NCLR has helped more than 500,000 U.S. citizens register to vote.
With the nation facing the effects of badly outdated immigration policies, NCLR was a fierce advocate for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants temporary legal status to immigrants brought to the United States as children.
In 2010, NCLR remembered its Arizona advocate roots when the state passed SB1070, an extreme anti-Latino and anti-immigrant bill that legitimized racial profiling. More than 50 organizations protested and boycotted the state until the bill was overturned.
In July 2017, with an eye on the future and reaffirming its commitment to unite all communities, NCLR changed its name to UnidosUS.
For 50 years, UnidosUS has been the connection between our community and the nation’s leaders. Together, we can break every barrier that keeps us from succeeding.
As we continue telling our history and writing our future, we will champion our families in their daily fight and elevate their voices across the country.
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