Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fighting for Democracy: Hector Garcia and Latino soldiers

The era of Jim Crow, which legalized the separation of the races in education, public places, and even housing, is rarely considered outside of the black-white racial context. However, in America, school segregation was not solely confined to that of African-Americans. Throughout segregation, children of people who emigrated from Mexico were often placed into so-called “Mexican” schools, where they learned separately from other students in less-than-adequate facilities. 

Landmark court cases such as 1947's Mendez v. Westminster, which preceded the Brown v. Board of Education case against school desegregation, sought to change this harsh reality but not before students of Mexican descent were forced to go to schools that had limited books, funding and maintenance.

 Did you know that this happened? 
How has this changed your view of segregation?

Born in 1914, Hector Garcia (pictured right) grew up in Texas. The exhibit Fighting for Democracy shares his story, including how he attended a segregated “Mexican” school and then an integrated school. He entered the medical school in Galveston as the only Mexican-American. With the outbreak of World War II, he volunteered to be a medic in Europe. 

While Latinos were not "segregated" in the military per se, they were often assigned to units based on the darkness of their complexion. Dealing with this form of discrimination and more, Hector treated patients from many different ethnic and racial backgrounds. The experience was to have a profound influence on his life and what he chose to do after the war.  
Do you think you would have volunteered to fight for a country that denied some of your rights?

To learn how Hector’s story ends, come view the exhibit Fighting for Democracy at Levine Museum of the New South from January 19th through July 14th, 2013.

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