A soldier’s fight during War World II did not prepare his family for the civil rights battle that ensued after his death. Pvt. Felíx Longoría’sstory, now known as “The Longoría Affair” will be shared for free with Lone Star College-Kingwood students, faculty staff and the community Monday, Nov. 15.
John J. Valadez, producer of “The Longoría Affair” will show the audience how Longoría’s death gave life to the Mexican-Americans’ fight for civil rights in Texas. The documentary will be shown at 6:30 p.m. in the college’s Student Fine Arts Theatre.
“’The Longoría Affair’ is a compelling story of the struggle for Mexican-American civil rights during War World II. As a resident of Three Rivers in Texas, draftee Pvt. Felíx Longoría served his country patriotically. Sadly, the soldier’s supreme sacrifice to America culminated more than half a year into his tour of duty in the Philippines when he was shot by an enemy sniper in 1944,” said Raúl Reyes, history professor.
Posthumously, Longoría became a national victim of racial bigotry when according to the PBS documentary, “the funeral home in his hometown refused burial services and turned away his widow for fear that the whites might not like it.”
Longoría’s story angered many in the Mexican-American community and caught the attention of Dr. Héctor García, president and founder of the American GI Forum (World War II Mexican-American veterans). Garcia advocated on behalf of the widow and sent at least 17 telegrams to politicians and radio personalities such as Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell.
“The radio personalities aired Garcia’s impassioned telegram which reflected that the denial of burial services was a direct contradiction of the principals that this American soldier made in sacrificing his life for his country and for the same people who denied him his last funeral rites, which is deserving of any American hero regardless of origin,” Reyes said.
The ensuing fight for civil rights paid off when Senator Lyndon B. Johnson arranged for a full military honors and burial for Longoría in the Arlington National Cemetery in 1949.
“The Longoría Affair” will be shown as part of LSC-Kingwood’s International Education Week Nov. 15-18 and in belated recognition of Veterans Day. For more information on the event, contact Raúl Reyes at 281-312-1594 or email him at Raul.R.Reyes@LoneStar.edu. For more information on “The Longoría Affair” visit http://www.thelongoriaaffair.com/Longoria_Affair/Longoria_HOME.html