2 minute read

Héctor Pérez García: 1914-1996: Physician, Civil Rights Advocate

Generosity Mixed With Impatience

García was a benevolent man, who often did not collect for his medical services. Stories of García's generosity and kindness are plentiful. He never asked for payment from those who could not afford it, and when one of his advisors sent out collection letters requesting payment on the doctors' debts, García was horrified and immediately ended any attempt to be reimbursed, saying that sending a letter to people who did not have money would not give them money to pay. He simply expected that people would pay if they could. García also helped others when ever he could. Johnny De La Fuente, a recipient of García's generosity told the Corpus Christi Times, "He was the kind of person who helped the needy until the end."

Although García was well known for his generosity with the poor, even his friends admitted that García was likely to preach democracy but function more as an authoritarian at times. He had little patience for the decision-making process that involved motions, votes, and approvals. He felt he did not have time, and the slowness inherit in the democratic process frustrated him. "There's no question that Dr. García was impatient," Judge James Deanda, former legal council for the GI Forum, told Justice for My People. Deanda recalled the frustrated comments of a labor leader, who said of García, "the trouble with Hector is that he's teaching everybody the democratic system and how to participate in it, but after he teaches you, he will not let you participate."

During the Vietnam War the GI Forum supported the Mexican Americans with family members involved in the war, including helping with the burial of the dead. García personally attended nearly 200 funerals of local Hispanic servicemen, often speaking at the service. Yet his patriotic stance during the Vietnam War put García into conflict with more radical Hispanic groups who opposed the war and held no love for Johnson. García, on the other hand, was a proud veteran who expected all Mexican Americans to be honored to serve their country, and he held Johnson as a long-time personal friend since the days of the Longoria incident. His role as a moderator who worked from within the system was viewed by more radical groups as selling out to the Anglo culture. Yet no one denied García's impact on the Hispanic community. During the 1950s Texas movie theaters, restaurants, and hotels were desegregated. In the 1960s, barber shops and beauty parlors were opened to Mexican Americans, and in the 1970s swimming pools and cemeteries were desegregated.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: E(mily) R. Frank (1967-) Biography - Personal to Martha Graham (1893–1991) BiographyHéctor Pérez García: 1914-1996: Physician, Civil Rights Advocate Biography - Gained Education And Army Experience, Fought For Civil Rights With Gi Forum, Generosity Mixed With Impatience