Author Cecilia García Akers speaks on father’s legacy

Brianna Patt, Web Editor

Cecilia Garcia-Akers holds her book “The Inspiring Life of Texan Hector P. Garcia”. East Texan Photo | John Parsons

By Brianna Patt | Web Editor

Author Cecilia García Akers spoke to A&M-Commerce students about her father and civil rights activist Dr. Hector P. García, continuing his legacy as part of the Latino American Mentorship Program speaker series Oct. 17

“One of his greatest strengths was taking these negatives and turning them into positives,” García Akers, who also serves as Dr. Hector P. García Memorial Foundation president, said.

Akers began by speaking about her father’s childhood, early accomplishments and struggles. Born in 1917, García was the only Mexican American in his ’36 class at UT Galveston medical school. When he graduated however, he was unable to find residency, so he went to Omaha. García Akers went on to talk about her father joining the army, and the disbelief of fellow soldiers that he was a doctor because he was Mexican. She also explained that, despite his time served in the US army as a doctor, he was not a citizen.

“He served this country,” García Akers said. “And he wasn’t even a citizen. It’s unbelievable.”

To help the soldiers that he treated, García formed the American GI Forum. According to García Akers, he also participated in the Longoria affair, an event that was the start of Mexican-American civil rights. Felix Longoria was a soldier in World War II who was refused burial because he was Hispanic when graveyards were segregated. When García was informed of this, he sent out telegrams that spread the word about this refusal.

“My father was so instrumental in how our livers were shaped today,” she said.

García Akers closed the event by speaking on what her memorial foundation does, along with other endeavors to help students. The foundation resulted in $270,000 of scholarship money over four years. She also created and opened the Dr. Hector P. García Memorial Family Health Center in Corpus Christi. These scholarships and the health center are designed to continue the work of her father and his dedication to helping others.