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Photo of Joaquin Avila Fred T. Korematsu for the Center for Law and Equality Launch (2009). Photo by Steve Shelton.
Photo of Joaquin Avila Fred T. Korematsu for the Center for Law and Equality Launch (2009). Photo by Steve Shelton.

Remembering Joaquín Ávila

 The lawyer and activist has died, leaving behind a trajectory of more than two decades of struggle for the minorities voting rights.

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In a critical situation for minorities in the country, one of the strongest voices for equality and inclusion has faded.

The lawyer and activist for the rights to suffrage, Joaquín Ávila, died last Friday at the age of 69, according to Rick Hasen in his Election Law Blog.

Of Mexican descent, Ávila was born and raised in Compton (California) and dedicated more than two decades to the struggle for equality and inclusion of minorities in electoral processes through the Voting Rights Act.

Ávila has been considered the father of the California Voting Rights Act, which was passed in 2001. He also set a precedent in voting lawsuits and worked with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), where he became president and general counsel.

He was awarded prizes such as the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant (1996), the State Bar of California Loren Miller Legal Services Award (2001) and the Seattle University School of Law Latin Amicus Award (2012).

As the Rebellious Lawyering Institute describes him, Joaquín Ávila "has devoted his career to a vision of voting rights advocacy that is premised on the conviction that government functions best if it is reflective and representative of the range of its constituents.”

According to a press release by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), Ávila "was a brilliant legal mind, responsible for shaping the nation’s modern-day election landscape”.

But the only battle that this giant of the law could not win was that of cancer that overcame his will and left a significant gap in the ranks of those who fight for the rights of communities without a voice.

At a time when every vote counts, his legacy remains and with it the firm conviction of all of us who work for the inclusion of Hispanic communities to make this the country we all deserve.

Hasta siempre, Joaquín.

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