The Longoria Incident Hector P. Garcia: A Texas Legend

long

The Longoria Incident

Army Pvt. Felix Longoria, a native of the small South Texas town of Three Rivers whose remains were returned from Luzon, in the Philippines, for burial four years after World War II ended Mr. Longoria’s widow, Beatriz, had been denied use of a hometown funeral chapel because the Longorias were Mexican-American. She was told that the "white people would not stand for it." Mr. Kennedy had indicated that he would handle the arrangements for burial (in the segregated "Mexican" cemetery separated by a barbed wire), but would not allow the use of the chapel for the wake.


johnlet

Letter to LBJ

After being telephoned by the Longoria family on January 10, 1949, Dr. Garcia called Mr. Tom Kennedy the Funeral Director of Three Rivers Funeral Home only to be rebuffed. It was then that Dr. Garcia wrote this letter to U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson asking for his intervention. The incident drew commentary from the national news media Drew Pearson, Walter Winchell, and Westbrook Pegler. Walter Winchell said, "The state of Texas, which looms so large on the map, looks mighty small tonight…" Because of the largely negative attention that Texas received, Dr. Garcia and his family received many insults and threats.


tele

Telegram from LBJ

By the afternoon of January 11, Dr. Garcia began issuing announcements of a protest meeting. During the meeting of more than 1,000 people, later that evening, the telegram from Senator Lyndon Johnson was read. This event established Dr. Garcia as a force and voice of Mexican-Americans. The G. I. Forum’s credibility was also established as a state organization that could mobilize action and attention.