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Dennis Chavez: A Featured Biography


Photo of Senator Dennis Chavez

Senator Dennis Chavez, who represented the state of New Mexico for 27 years in the U.S. Senate, was the first American-born Hispanic senator. Chavez quit school at the age of 13 in order to help support his impoverished family. He continued his education independently, however, and eventually gained admission into Georgetown University Law School. From his early years in the state legislature, where he introduced legislation providing free textbooks for public school children, Chavez was dedicated to defending the oppressed. As a senator, he introduced many civil rights reform bills such as the Fair Employment Practices Commission Bill, which sought to end racial discrimination in the workplace. In 1950 he was one of the first in the Senate to denounce the anticommunist actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy. New Mexico has honored him with a statue which is on display in the U.S. Capitol.