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k.h and Associates 1117 West 5th Street Austin, Texas 78703 REALTOR Representing all types of properties In Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty. 477-3651 I it \(TA14111 IListed On The National Register of Historic Places “Go gather by the humming sea Some twisted, echo-harboring shell, And to it all thy secrets tell” W. B. Yeats 749-5555 P.O. Box 8 Port Aransas, TX 78373 Viva Willie! BY RANIIRO R. CASSO WILLIAM was buried in San Antonio on Saturday, June 18, 1988, but Willie will never really die. Because his monumental contribution to mankind, his opus magna, his legacy to his people, to Hispanics, the disenfranchised, the powerless everywhere in Southwest America, will virtually live forever. Such was the character, the brilliance, the courage, the tenacity, the greatness of this man. All of Willie’s adult life, all of his strength, and all of his resources, he spent on his beloved, la causa. That he Dr. Ramiro R. Casso lives in McAllen. died poor only attests to the length and depth of his unwavering commitment to la causa. He gave it all everything! In the business world, this kind of man, with his brilliance of mind, and his guts, and determination, would have become a certain multimillionaire. But instead he virtually took the vows of poverty and chose to register minority voters, to make democracy work, to make our country stronger, to make our country better. In twelve short years, he doubled the Hispanic voter registration from 2.5 million to 5 million, and, as a result, the number of Hispanic officeholders also more than doubled from 1500 to over 3,000. The impact and the after-shocks of those achievements have already changed our world and will surely endure with us forever. So how can Willie possibly die? Oh Death, where is thy sting? Oh Tomb, where is thine Victory? For many years to come, we shall witness the Hispanic worker, the Latino intellectual, the professional, the farmworker emerge from the cantina, after having a few drinks, and yell out loud so Willie can hear: Viva la Causa! Viva Willie Velasquez, hIjos de su chingada madre! And they will shed a few tears together, and they will dry their faces, and then they’ll laugh. They’ll remember. for the future of Chicano politics. I remember that pragmatic side of you which had to go through a period in which what was important was just getting Brown people elected. Any Brown people. This goal of quantity has been replaced, thanks to you, by quality. We cap no longer allow our leadership, especially those from our own people, to go on unquestioned. We need to move on to an era of Chicano statesmen. This is what you advocated and what we, as a people, must pursue. I remember one of your favorite quotes on this topic, once again drawing from our past, the Aztecs. It was a description of the qualities required of those who would be elected high priest and it held that “even if the person were poor and lowly, even if his mother and father were the poorest of the poor . . his lineage was not considered . .. only his way of life mattered. . . . The purity of his heart, his good and humane heart . .. his stout heart. . . . It was said that he had God in his heart, that he was wise in the things of God.” In this statement of the past we see a vision for our future both as a people and as a nation. Willie, you were always right about this; it’s exactly what we need. The last and most important thing I learned from you, Willie, and the one thing I most want out of my own life is to master an equilibrium in life just as you did. You balanced an undying commitment as a true leader to the movement and to our people with the strength and gentleness of being a son, a brother, a father, a husband, and a friend. You were a new type of leader a transformative leader. You committed people to action, you converted followers into leaders, and you converted leaders into agents of change. You realized that previous leaders have created a commitment gap. Leaders have failed to instill vision, meaning, and trust in their followers. They have failed to empower them. You did the opposite. You convinced us that we could be our own directors of our destiny. As Lao Tzu wrote, “Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you; but of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say, ‘We did this ourselves.’ ” Your strongest point as a leader was the possession of a quality that all leaders wish they had and that was that you were just as comfortable and accepted drinking a beer with local organizers from Roswell, New Mexico, as you were sipping champagne with national and international figures. This never ceased to amaze me. You are, and remain, a genuine man of the people. Overall, Willie, you are the ultimate leader: an activist with vision. As Lawrence states, “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of day are dangerous men, they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.” You are this latter type of dreamer. Do you remember the last time we spoke face to face in Houston? You told me all about the grant plans and projects you had writing your book, providing for Jane and the kids, political consulting, and so on. I told you that I wanted to take next year off to help you. You said you needed to think about it. Then, there was the last time we spoke on the phone this past Sunday. You told me that you had been thinking a lot about my offer and that you had realized that you needed me here at home. A few days later, the Lord took you away. But don’t worry, Willie, those things will still get done we’re going to write that book, take care of Jane and the kids, and finish all the things you started. Life can be tough, Willie; you know that better than I do. I never once, for a second, thought that I’d have to go through life without you and you know what? I’m not going to. That deep sense of emptiness which felt like my heart had been ripped out has been replaced by a passion for life that only you could have instilled in me. Wherever I go, whatever I do, you go with me, Willie; it’s that simple. 12 JULY 29, 1988