A typed statement to the Latino community drafted for John F. Kennedy has been placed on auction, showcasing a glimpse of one of the earliest efforts by an American president-elect to appeal directly to Hispanic constituents.
The statement – which has been placed on auction online by New Hampshire-based company RR Auction – was prepared for a meeting with the League of United Latin American Councils (LULAC) at the Rice Hotel in Houston on November 21, 1963.
The statement was prepared for one of the first times an American president publicly addressed an organized voting bloc of U.S. Hispanics, says Bobby Livingston, VP at RR Auction.
Kennedy “wasn’t even formally scheduled to speak at LULAC,” explains Livingston, but “when the opportunity arose to speak to LULAC members at the hotel where he was staying, Kennedy seized it.”
Kennedy did deliver a speech, which was different from the prepared letter. You can see the speech here.
The prepared statement praised LULAC of Texas State Director Joe A. Garza, mentioned Latin American policy and made reference to the Latino community’s deep-rooted ties to Texas. Following his speech, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy addressed the gathering in Spanish – which garnered applause from the audience.
“I am delighted to join the members of the League of United Latin American Councils of Texas in honoring their State Director, Joe A. Garza,” reads the statement, prepared by Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff on White House letterhead. “Joe Garza’s contributions to the people of Texas have been formidable, but his work on behalf of LULAC in its academic scholarship program for deserving students of Mexican-American origin is particularly outstanding and worthy of commendation. One of our greatest hopes for the future lies with our young people, and how we prepare them today vitally affects our common destiny. Joe A. Garza, whom you honor here tonight, has lived and worked in the finest tradition of the LULAC and of all forward-thinking Americans.”
The paper statement has been valued between $3,000 and $5,000 dollars by RR Auction, but “I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes for well pass that,” says Livingston of the memento, one of more than 200 JFK items currently up at auction.
“This represents an important moment in history – especially when you think of how the nation’s politics have changed with the growing importance of the Latino demographic.”