In This Office, Dr. Hector P. Garcia Fought for the Rights of Latinos
Image courtesy of Nuestro Stories.
Throughout history, there have been so many people who have made lasting impacts on the day-to-day lives of Latinos across the country. So many that it is often hard to keep track. We know the prominent names such as Cesar Chavez, Corky Gonzalez, and Jose Montoya — but there are plenty of heroes who are worthy of praise.
One of those heroes is Dr. Hector P. Garcia.
Born in Llera, Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 1917, Dr. Garcia’s mother and father, Faustina Perez and Jose Garcia were school teachers who fled the area during the Mexican Revolution, making their way to Mercedes, Texas.
Throughout his life, Garcia’s parents stressed the importance of education and placed their hopes on all of their children to utilize their minds to become doctors and help in the healing of their communities. In fact, he and five of his six siblings became physicians, partially in honor of their parents.
A life of service
Dr. Garcia’s educational journey took him everywhere. From joining the Citizens’ Military Training Corps to a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of Texas at Galveston to a doctorate in medicine, all by 1940, at the age of 23.
Dr. Hector P. Garcia began his residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. Upon completing his residency, Dr. Garcia was called to active duty in the Army. He was forced to enter into the fray of World War II, eventually being placed in command of a company of infantrymen.
After returning from the war, Dr. Garcia became involved with LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), an organization Latino war veterans had formed to defend the human and civil rights afforded to Latinos in America.
His work with the organization garnered him the election as President of the organization in 1947.
At this time, he vowed to continue the work of fighting for his people. He funneled that work into AGIF, the American GI Forum, an organization he founded to assist his people with discrimination suffered through the Veteran’s Association after soldiers came home. Through the American GI Forum, he encouraged veterans to fight for educational and medical benefits and utilized the group to organize against poll taxes and school segregation.
On top of this, Dr. Hector P. Garcia and his brother Jose Antonio opened a private medical practice that treated all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.
He emphasized the care of Latino veterans and farmworkers of the region, whose suffering he had witnessed firsthand. That original office, located on Bright St., is where the longest-lasting impact of Dr. Garcia’s legacy was felt.
Dr. Garcia’s impact on Texas and Latinos has been felt for the last 80 years.
Location: Corpus Cristi, Texas, United States.
Address: 1315 Bright Street in Corpus Christi, Texas.
See the outside of Dr. Garcia’s office here.
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Olivia Monahan Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.