Click here to download and read "Latinos at UWM: A History of the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute and the Roberto Hernández Center" by Joseph A. Rodriguez, Associate Professor, UWM Department of History and Director, UWM Urban Studies Program.

Video-DVD: Purchase the 40th ACT: The Origins of the Roberto Hernández Center - The Chapman Hall Takeover and the Creation of the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institutute" DVD

Who was Roberto Hernández?
Roberto Hernández was one of the most active Latino leaders in the city of Milwaukee during the 1970's. In the late 1960's, he was one of less than a dozen Latinos enrolled at UWM. He became one of the leading voices in the Latino community's efforts to increase Latino access to and representation at the university, negotiating with administrators for the creation of the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute (SSOI) in 1970.

Roberto Hernandez in the 1970s As chair of the negotiating team for the Council for the Education of Latin Americans (CELA), Hernández presided over the committees that chose the first SSOI director and staff. He was also one of the key individuals that helped to negotiate the first language maintenance bilingual program in Wisconsin and assisted in the enactment of Wisconsin's first Migrant Worker's Act.

After leaving Milwaukee, Hernández continued his youth and community advocacy in Texas where he was regarded as one of the most successful organizers and social transformers. In 1994, Hernández died prematurely of a heart attack.

Roberto Hernández was a major force in shaping the collaborative work of Latinos in Milwaukee. One of his goals was to work towards educational advancement and a better life for all Latinos in and around the Milwaukee area. It is our hope that this Center, dedicated to his memory in the 1990's, will make important contributions towards the advancement of Latinos in Milwaukee and the rest of the state.

August 27, 1970, a community takeover of Chancellor's office and Chapman Hall lead to more dialogue and the creation of a Spanish Speaking Outreach Institutute, now the Roberto Hernandez Center.