Voting rights advocates Henry Flores, Ph.D. (B.A. ’74) and Nina Perales, J.D., were honored at a banquet on February 25 celebrating Chicano Civil Rights at St. Mary’s University.

The Chicano Civil Rights Banquet is part of St. Mary’s University School of Law’s Minority Pre-Law Symposium, which invites high school and college students to learn more about the law school experience. Thursday’s event commemorated the landmark case of League of United Latin American Citizens v. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, that demonstrated the crucial importance of the U.S. Census and its resultant effect on voting rights. Speakers reflected on the case and emphasized the importance of the 2010 Census for Latinos.

“LULAC v. Perry was the result of a census redistricting process gone awry. The work of both Nina Perales and Henry Flores in seeking to vindicate the Voting Rights Act merits recognition of their hard work and ultimate success. The case and Nina and Henry’s work in the voting rights arena is demonstrative proof of the importance of the decennial census,” said Reynaldo Valencia, St. Mary’s School of Law Associate Dean for Administration and Finance and Professor of Law. Valencia chairs St. Mary’s Chicano Civil Rights Committee and is the founder of the Minority Pre-Law Symposium, now in its ninth year.

Perales, Southwest Regional Counsel for Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was the keynote speaker. She was presented with the Chicano Civil Rights Award for her work arguing LULAC v. Perry before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Flores, dean of St. Mary’s University’s Graduate School, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution and continued dedication to Latino voting rights issues.

The Minority Pre-Law Symposium hosted approximately 300 high school and college students from around the state to spend the day on St. Mary’s law campus learning more about all aspects of law school from the admission process to career options. This year’s keynote speaker of the Symposium was Judge Peter Sakai, 225th District Court in San Antonio.

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