Mexican-American Veteran Group via the American GI Forum Remembers JFK Yearsby Dee Dee Garcia Blase on Sep. 15, 2013, under 2016 Presidential Elections, American GI Forum, chicano vote, Cultura, Culture, veteran voters
A good story with regard to the American GI Forum — a Texas-born group that has had it right all along. Stories of Dr. Hector P. Garcia is an issue that is near and dear to my heart because he was the founder and a Mexican-American patriot who fought for many Mexican-American rights we have today.
Enjoy! From the Dallas News:
By DIANNE SOLIS
In 1960, Korean War veteran Albert Orozco set out to prove himself with other Mexican-American vets on a
new battlefield — politics. They embraced the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy with Viva Kennedy Clubs and strategic fundraising for poll taxes so the poor could vote.
Orozco was already a leader in a Mexican-American group that played the red, white and blue patriotism card hard — the American GI Forum.
Kennedy won their support with a social justice message, Catholic faith, a Spanish-speaking wife and a family history of fighting anti-Irish discrimination.
Yet, in a strange twist of JFK history, the Dallas chapter was under surveillance by the very government they had served in war.
Orozco is now an 84-year-old retired school principal with thinning silver hair, pole-straight posture and precise speech. He doesn’t let the surveillance eclipse the significance of the activism. By one account, 91 percent of Texas Mexican-Americans voted for JFK — giving the senator a key state in a razor-thin election.
“The clubs saw how important it was to get involved in the voting process,” Orozco said. He and his late wife, Henrietta, co-hosted the first Viva Kennedy meeting in the Old East Dallas home of his mother.
“For the first time, after the efforts of the GI Forum, they saw the results,” he said. “They saw that it does pay to vote.”
Military service filled families with pride and confidence. In Dallas, Orozco and others took on swimming pool segregation, a Catholic Church that kept Mexican-American altar boys from field trips and a downtown bar with a “No Dogs, Negroes or Mexicans” sign.
In Corpus Christi, similar scenes unreeled before Dr. Hector P. Garcia, a Corpus Christi physician and surgeon who had served in the Army during World War II. He founded the Forum after the war. The catalysts for the movement were discrimination against Latino vets, poor treatment at the Veterans Administration, school segregation and an infamous incident over a Texas funeral wake for a soldier.
“They were veterans and not too happy to be treated like second-class citizens,” said his oldest child, Daisy Wanda Garcia, a 67-year-old Austin resident.
GI Forum chapters morphed into Viva Kennedy clubs in the Southwest, California and Illinois. Membership also came from the League of United Latin American Citizens. FULL STORY>>>