Browse Exhibits (5 total)
Dr. Hector Perez Garcia was born in Mexico to Jose and Faustina Garcia on January 17, 1914. Soon after, his family fled the violence of the Mexican Revolution and settled in Texas. There, Dr. Garcia formed connections that would last a lifetime. He established a medical practice in Corpus Christi, Texas. Although his career would take him across the country and even to the White House, he remained deeply committed to his family and his community.
Military service shaped Dr. Garcia’s life and activism. When he returned to the United States after serving overseas during World War II, he joined the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The organization addressed issues of discrimination but did not, Dr. Garcia believed, do enough for veterans. In 1948, he founded the American GI Forum (AGIF). The veterans’ advocacy group soon evolved into a powerful and effective force for civil rights as men and women established chapters nationwide.
As a Mexican immigrant, Dr. Garcia experienced firsthand the racial injustices that defined the lives of countless Americans. Working with and through the AGIF, he became a tireless champion for civil rights. He firmly believed that citizens could be agents of change, and advocated non-violent, civic solutions to discrimination and segregation. From school sit-ins to voter registration drives, Dr. Garcia led a movement that effected real change in his community and far beyond.
Dr. Garcia served as a spokesman for Mexican Americans at the national and international level. His reputation and ability to get people to the polls made him a powerful ally for politicians, many of whom sought his endorsement and his advice. He rose to national prominence, but his dedication to his community never wavered. He used his prestige as a platform to help publicize and address the challenges facing Mexican Americans nationwide.
Dr. Garcia dedicated his life to the practice of medicine, political activism, and public service. His accomplishments can be counted in the dozens of awards he received for these efforts—including the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom—but also in the thousands of lives he made better. Today, Dr. Garcia’s family remains dedicated to preserving and perpetuating his incredible legacy. Their efforts ensure that his impact will be felt for generations to come.