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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Dr. Hector P. Garcia: The American G.I. Forum
Program #

Social Issues
Linda Fregoso
Hector P. García
Nov 27, 1981

Dr. Hector P. Garcia: The American G.I. Forum

Dr. Hector P. Garcia, a World War II veteran and founder of the American GI Forum, traces the organization’s origins and activism and discusses current Chicano struggles. Garcia returned from the War to find that discrimination was still a large problem in many of the government offices and local businesses in Texas. He was moved to take action after a funeral home in Three Rivers, Texas refused to bury Private Felix Longoria, a soldier who died in the war. The incident encouraged Garcia to form the forum so that it could help Chicano soldiers access services for veterans, but it soon expanded its focus to helping the Chicano community at large as they worked to improve public education and end discriminatory hiring practices. The Forum was one of the first Chicano organizations to use the courts to challenge discrimination and Garcia discusses why previous activists were hesitant to turn to the legal system.

Because of his efforts, Garcia and his family became the targets of violent threats. But there were also some positive consequences: he witnessed the GI Forum’s expansion and became friends with several federal level politicians who invited him to speak at political events and even offered him an ambassadorship. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. in 1967 and as Commissioner to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He represented former President Kennedy for the signing of the special treaty with the West Indies. He now lives in Corpus Christi, TX.

Garcia then discusses the current problems facing the Chicano community. He believes the civil rights gains of the sixties and seventies are slowly deteriorating under the Reagan Administration and Mexican Americans are facing increasing discrimination from government agencies.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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