The article by David Conde regarding honoring the legacy of American GI Forum and its founder Dr. Hector P. Garcia brings home the truth that this leader and the American GI Forum has long been ignored by the media and our community for the impact they have had on the current status of the Mexican American/Hispanic family.
The GI Forum story is more than the events that occurred in Three Rivers, Texas that gave birth to the Forum. Over its sixty-four years as activists for the Hispanic and veteran community, a colorful history can be told about the very many accomplishments achieved by the Forum — stories at the national level in which the Forum achieve national attention for its victories before the courts to grant Mexicans the rights we share today, to its 500 chapters working throughout the nation for civil and also veteran rights for all citizens.
In Colorado, the Coors Boycott was initialed by the Forum to bring attention to the lack of Hispanics working at the Coors Brewery; the strikes and pickets called against the Brighton, Colo. carnation growers to bring public attention to the working conditions and wages of the farm workers; the march from Walsenburg, Colo. to Denver to call attention to the plight of the Hispanic Community in Colorado. This march was called the Crusade for Justice, which was later adopted by Corky Gonzales as the name for his movement. The GI Forum worked against the “English Only” laws in Colorado. In the 1950’s, they worked to call attention to the environmental damages caused in the Rocky Ford, Colo. farms to demanding that the Pueblo Public schools stop discriminating Latinos by placing them “with their own kind” in the Pueblo school system.
The GI Forum’s involvement in the struggle for equality and economic justice for the Hispanic community needs to be told so that our students of history gain a clear understanding of how the opportunities they now enjoy had to be paid for with courage on the battlefield, determination in the marches for justice and in the halls for higher education. The march from “No Mexicans allowed” to Diversity in our community did not happen on its own.
John J. Padilla