MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) opened its doors on August 1, 1968 in San Antonio, Texas. Inspired by the civil-rights era legal battles mounted on behalf of the African American community and knowledgeable of the pervasive discrimination against Latinos, lawyers and community activists throughout the southwestern United States launched efforts to create a legal organization to serve the Latino community.
MALDEF was consciously modeled on the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Indeed, MALDEF got off the ground thanks in large part to the generous guidance and assistance offered by the legendary civil rights attorney Jack Greenberg, who was then the LDF’s Director-Counsel.
Over the course of our 50-year history, MALDEF’s litigation and advocacy efforts have spurred reforms and led to new laws and policies with wide-ranging impact for the Latino community and the nation as a whole. Whether on the streets or in schools, in boardrooms or living rooms, in legislative chambers or courthouses right up to the U.S. Supreme Court, MALDEF has earned its reputation as the civil rights law firm of the Latino community.