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History of Commission

July 1974 - April 1975

In July of 1974 Governor William G. Milliken appointed the first eleven members to the Michigan Advisory Council for the Spanish Speaking by reason of Executive Order #1974-6. The Advisory Council for the Spanish Speaking, as stated in Executive Order 1974-6 was to perform the following:

  1. Conduct a study of the problems of Spanish Speaking people in the areas of education, employment, civil rights, health, housing and related matters and advise the Governor and state agencies relative to their findings.
  2. Coordinate the services of state and local governmental entities to assure that Latino citizens have ready access to decision-making bodies.
  3. Consult with representatives of federal agencies to identify federally funded programs for Spanish Speaking people and assist in maximizing the availability of such programs at the state level.
  4. Assist in recruiting and hiring of Spanish Speaking people for positions in industry and government.
  5. Apply for and accept grants and gifts from governmental or private sources to accomplish the objectives of the Council
  6. Review and recommend legislation that would respond to the problems and concerns of Spanish Speaking people.

The council proceeded to develop the orderly conduct of the business of the people. The council developed their policies and procedures and the chairperson of the Council, Mr. Jose Holguin, appointed the following working committees: Employment and Manpower; Human Services; Education; Economic Development; Housing; Cultural; Legislative; Affirmative Action; Finance and Budget; Migrant; and Communications and Public Relations.

The eleven Standing Committee Chairpersons were appointed on September 30, 1974 and were given instructions by the Chair of the Council to give periodic summaries to the Council and the community of their efforts and also to put together committees composed of no more than ten members, making sure that geographic representation was an important factor in all of the committees.

The original members appointed were as follows:

From Detroit:
Mr. Jose Holguin (Chairperson)
Mr. Israel Leyton (Vice Chairperson)
Mr. Raul Feliciano
Mrs. Faustina Knoll
Mr. Rafeal Ortiz

From Lansing:
Miss Sepulveda Vasquez (Exec. Member at Large)
Mr. Miguel Eyia, Sr.
Miss Mercedes Pabon
Mr. Gumecindo Salas

From Grand Rapids:
Mr. Francisco Vega

From Holland:
Mr. Ciro Cadena

The Governor honored the recommendation of the Council on November 1974 to appoint the following additional members:

From Flint:
Mr. Tano Resendez (Executive Member at Large)
Mrs. Maria Enriquez

From Jackson:
Mr. Samuel Garcia

From Muskegon:
Mrs. Jane Gonzalez

From Saginaw:
Mr. Edward Barrera (Secretary)

From Benton Harbor:
Mrs. Elvira Solis

The Legislative Committee prepared a draft for a Michigan Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan. The proposal was submitted to the Council at the March 19, 1975 meeting for discussion and action. The proposal was reviewed and adopted by the unanimous vote of the Council. Senator Robert Davis declared his interest in working with the Council to prepare and submit legislation for the Michigan Spanish Speaking Commission. His work was fruitful because Senate Bill No. 612 set a base in creating the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan. Senate Bill No. 612 was introduced by Senators Davis, Hart, Kildee, Bursley, Vander Laan and Corbin, a true bipartisan effort by individuals who were concerned and did something about that concern. Without the assistance of these seven people there would be no Commission today.

On July 15, 1975, the Michigan Legislature approved and Governor William G. Milliken signed Public Act 164, which created the Michigan Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan, the Office on Spanish Speaking Affairs, and the Interagency Council on Spanish Speaking Affairs. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The purpose of the COMMISSION is to develop a unified policy and plan of action to serve the needs of Michigan's Hispanic people. The law directs the Commission to:

  • Advise the Governor, the Legislature, and the Office regarding the coordination and administration of state programs serving Hispanic people.
  • Make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature regarding changes in state programs, statutes, and policies.
  • Advise the Governor and the Legislature of the nature, magnitude, and priorities of the problems of Hispanic people.
  • Review and approve grants to be made from federal, state, or private funds and which are administered by the Office.
  • Secure appropriate recognition of Hispanic accomplishments and contributions to the state.
  • Review and approve the Annual Report prepared by the Office of Spanish Speaking Affairs.

The purpose of the OFFICE is to provide the Commission with information concerning the problems of Hispanic people, and to implement Commission policy. The law directs the Office to:

  • Conduct studies and recommend solutions to the problems of Hispanic people in the areas of education, employment, civil rights, health, housing, senior citizens, and other related areas.
  • Recommend to federal, state, and local government departments and agencies the creation of services and facilities as needed.
  • Serve as a clearinghouse for the collection and distribution of information on Hispanic affairs.
  • Apply for and accept grants and gifts from governmental and private sources.
  • Request the services of all state and local government departments and agencies to assure that Hispanic people have access to the decision-making bodies that set policies which affect Hispanic people in this state.
  • Cooperate with departments and agencies to aid in effectuating the purposes of this Act.
  • Submit a full written report of its activities and recommendations each year to the Governor, the Legislature, and various Hispanic communities throughout the state.