American GI Forum

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American GI Forum
American GI Forum
Founded March 26, 1948
Founder Dr. Hector P. Garcia, Dr. Vicente T. Ximenes
Location
Key people
Albert Gonzales, Commander
Website http://www.agifusa.org/

The American G.I. Forum (AGIF) is a Congressionally chartered Hispanic veterans and civil rights organization. Its motto is "Education is Our Freedom and Freedom should be Everybody's Business". AGIF currently operates chapters throughout the United States, with a focus on veteran's issues, education, and civil rights. Its two largest national programs are the San Antonio-based Veterans Outreach Program, and the Dallas-based Service, Employment, Redevelopment-Jobs for Progress, Inc. (SER). The current commander is Albert Gonzales.[1]

Origin[edit]

It was established in Corpus Christi, the seat of Nueces County, Texas, on March 26, 1948 by Dr. Hector P. Garcia to address the concerns of Mexican-American veterans, who were segregated from other veterans groups. Initially formed to request services for World War II veterans of Mexican descent who were denied medical services by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the AGIF soon spread into non-veteran's issues such as voting rights, jury selection, and educational desegregation, advocating for the civil rights of all Mexican Americans. Today, the AGIF advocates on behalf of all Hispanic veterans.

The AGIF's first campaign was on the behalf of Felix Longoria, a Mexican American private who was killed in the Philippines in the line of duty. Upon the return of his body to Texas, he was denied funeral services by a White American-owned funeral home. Dr. Garcia requested the intercession of then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who secured Longoria's burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The case brought the AGIF to national attention, and chapters were opened throughout the country. A women's and youth auxiliary were also formed.

The AGIF, along with the League of United Latin American Citizens, was a plaintiff in the case of Pete Hernandez, a farm worker accused of murder, to the Supreme Court of the United States. In its decision, Hernandez v. Texas (1954), the court ruled that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the United States had equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Past presidents[edit]

Organization and Chapters[edit]

Each local chapter elects a "Commander" and a state chairperson. A yearly national convention is held to elect national high officers.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Henry Ramos, The American GI Forum: In Pursuit of the Dream, 1948-1983 (Houston, TX: Arte Publico Press, 1998). ISBN 978-1-55885-262-4