Thursday, December 29, 2011

Long live Hector P. Garcia

I heard with interest that a new statue of Mexican-American civil rights leader Dr. Hector P. Garcia was to be unveiled Jan. 26, 2012, in front of the Mercedes Public Library in the Rio Grande Valley. The library will be renamed in honor of Garcia who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley town and went on to greatness after founding the civil rights organization The American G.I. Forum.

Today (Dec. 29, 2011), I also read that former Corpus Christi Caller-Times reporter Armando Ibanez was filming a documentary about Dr. Garcia.

It's welcomed news to this college professor who has noticed how the name and legacy of this South Texas and American civil rights giant has slowly disappeared both from the faces of history pages and the minds of thousands (millions) of young people, especially young Mexican Americans. It saddens me to see that this hero is being forgotten, and that's why the news of the new statue honoring Garcia and the filming of this documentary are so welcomed. Perhaps these humble offerings to the memory of Dr. Hector P. Garcia will inspire others to do the same - remember his legacy.

But, I doubt it. Politics being what it is in Texas, chances are the name of a Mexican American hero will continue to be absent from our history books. Chances are, politics and racism being what it is in Texas and parts of the nation, the work of Dr. Hector P. Garcia will be scoffed at and not remembered. Chances are, Mexican American teachers, ashamed of their roots and culture, will decide to talk about other American heroes and abstain from talking about Garcia for fear they will be called radical or, even worse, un-American. Chances are children who will be asked about Dr. Garcia's legacy will ask, "Whose legacy? Who was he?" Some will even say, "Oh, that was a long time ago. We don't have those problems now. We don't need to bring back the past." But, the same teachers and children will relish their instruction and information on Martin Luther King, Anne Frank and her diary during the Holocaust and talk about slavery as if it was yesterday, and not a long time ago.

Chances are these same Mexican American children will go to college where few professors will talk about the contributions of Mexican Americans to the success of our region, state, nation and the world. Chances are many of these Mexican American children will be ashamed to talk about their heritage and say, "I can't speak Spanish" and listen more to "Rhiana" and "Kanye"or some "Li'L Wayne" then hear a classical mariachi tune or a Tejano song.

Chances are these same children will forget who Dr. Hector P. Garcia and his struggle to ensure equal rights for Mexican Americans and all people of our great country. Chances are few people will show up for the dedication of this memorial and even fewer will say, "It's a good thing."

Well, it is a good thing.

Love live Dr. Hector P. Garcia.

Que viva el Dr. Hector Garcia


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