Héctor Pérez García was born in Mexico and immigrated to south Texas during the Mexican Revolution. His hard won education — he had to hitchhike 30 miles each way to attend junior college — saw him become a medical doctor. Later he fought in WWII as an officer in the Army infantry in Europe, attained the rank of major and was awarded the Bronze Star and six Battle Stars.
García became involved with LULAC after the war and then began to notice acute discrimination in the schools and towards veterans. His work evolved into founding the American G.I. Forum, which has been a Latino advocacy organization since 1948. He also intervened in the Félix Longoria affair, in which this war hero was not allowed to have his funeral in that town’s funeral parlor for fear of upsetting the whites who lived there.
García would go on to be involved in important court cases, work with several presidents and win many awards and accolades, including: the Presidential medal of Freedom, being named an alternate ambassador to the United Nations, appointment to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and more.