The American GI Forum: In Pursuit of the Dream, 1948-1983

The American GI Forum: In Pursuit of the Dream, 1948-1983

The American GI Forum: In Pursuit of the Dream, 1948-1983

The American GI Forum: In Pursuit of the Dream, 1948-1983

Synopsis

This book traces the stormy history of one of U.S. Hispanics' most important but least known civil-rights groups-the American G.I. Forum-from its controversial inception through the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

Excerpt

As a young man growing up in south Texas during the 1950s, I vividly remember the conditions that gave rise to the formation of the American gi Forum. For Mexican Americans in south Texas and the Rio Grande Valley (the birthplace of the Forum and numerous other leading national Hispanic organizations), life was hard. Opportunities for Hispanics to acquire meaningful employment and schooling were limited by law and local custom. Housing and health conditions were dangerously substandard, and local Anglo service establishments, from restaurants and hotels to hospitals and barber shops, were frequently off-limits to Latinos. Much like blacks in the South, Hispanic Americans in Texas and much of the nation were denied equal treatment under the law as a matter of course.

After World War ii, returning Hispanic servicemen and women found these conditions intolerable. They organized and fought for change. the American gi Forum became their primary vehicle to advance this work. For younger Hispanics of the day like myself, the Forum’s early activities and successes established a first exposure to the possibility of equality. the Forum’s work exposed us to the critical importance of patriotism, community organization, education, advocacy, and leadership. It helped to focus us on a purpose in our lives larger than just ourselves. It gave us—sometimes for the first time—pride in our history and our contributions to American society and culture.

I remember, as a youth leader of the organization, the opportunity to meet and work with the Forum’s founding leaders, including Dr. Hector P. García. They taught me the value of dedication and hard work as I helped to organize youth chapters of the group, first in Texas and . . .

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