Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995
Lucille Roybal-Allard was the first Mexican-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992 with more than sixty percent of the vote in the general election, and was reelected in 1994 with eighty-one percent of the vote. Lucille Roybal-Allard was born in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles County, California on June 12, 1941. Her father Edward R. Roybal served in the U.S. House of Representatives for thirty years. In 1965 she graduated from California State University in Los Angeles. After working in the field of public relations and as a fund raising executive for the United Way, she was elected in 1986 by a wide margin to the California State Assembly, where she served for three terms.
In the State legislature, Roybal-Allard was a strong advocate for women's rights and for environmental equity. She successfully led a campaign against the location of a toxic-waste incinerator in a low-income area within her district. Her leadership was commended by many groups including the California Sierra Club, which presented her with its first Legislative Environmental Achievement Award, and the California chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which named her "Legislator of the Year" in 1991.
In Congress, Roybal Allard represents California's 33rd District, which has the largest Hispanic majority in the nation. Her district also has one of the lowest rates of voter participation, where less than one-fourth of those eligible to vote are registered. As a means of fostering citizenship education and voter participation, she sponsored a bill to allow non-profit, educational organizations to solicit federal funds to conduct citizenship workshops for immigrants and refugees.
Roybal-Allard is regarded as a strong supporter of social legislation, particularly in the fields of jobs, health care, education, housing, women's rights, and the environment. In the 103rd Congress, she served on the Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs Committee; and on the Small Business Committee. In the 104th Congress, she serves on the House Committee on Budget, and on the House Banking and Financial Services Committee, where she has seats on the Housing Subcommittee and the Domestic and International Monetary Policy Subcommittee.
For further reading:
Telgen, Diane and Kamp, Jim, ed. Notable Hispanic American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1993. pp. 358-360.
Official U.S. House of Representatives Web Site: Lucille Roybal-Allard