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The Longoria Affair, a film by John J. Valadez

Created: 11 March, 2011
Updated: 20 April, 2022
2 min read
Pvt. Felix Longoria

    The Ethnic Studies Program, Communication Department, & the National Latino Research Center (NLRC) at California State University San Marcos are proud to cosponsor a special screening of the film, “The Longoria Affair.” This documentary film narrates the story of Mexican American veterans and their struggle for civil rights, on Friday, March 18, at 6:30 pm , California State University San Marcos.

    The documentary “The Longoria Affair” tells the story of Mexican-American Felix Longoria, who died while fighting in World War II and his family was denied use of their south Texas town’s only funeral parlor because “the whites wouldn’t like it.” His widow contacted Hector P. Garcia, a local doctor and activist. He, in turn, contacted a newly-elected Texas senator, Lyndon B. Johnson, for help.

    The words “the whites wouldn’t like it,” became front-page news across the country, sparking outrage and setting off a series of events that would come to be known as the Longoria Affair. The incident fueled the rise of a national civil rights movement led by Mexican American veterans, and bitterly divided Three Rivers for generations to come.

    Two stubborn and savvy leaders, newly elected Senator Lyndon Johnson and activist Dr. Hector Garcia, formed an alliance over the incident. Over the next 15 years, their complex, sometimes contentious relationship would help Latinos become a national force for the first time in American history, carry John F. Kennedy to the White House, and ultimately lead to Johnson’s signature on the most important civil rights legislation of the 20th century.

    Today the town of Three Rivers still struggles with its past. Local musician and activist Santiago Hernandez wants to honor Felix Longoria by naming the post office after him. But many Anglo residents are angered by the idea. They believe discrimination against Mexican Americans never existed in their town and the Longoria Affair was blown up for political gain.

    Past and present collide as Mexican Americans and Anglo Americans engage in a bitter struggle over the meaning of civil rights and the history of segregation.

    John Valadez has been producing and directing award winning, nationally broadcast documentaries for the past 16 years. In November his film “The Longoria Affair” will air on the Emmy award winning series Independent Lens. Last year his film “The Chicano Wave,” a history of Mexican American music for the PBS/BBC series LATIN MUSIC USA received a prime-time national broadcast in both the United States and Europe.Film presentations will be held at Cal State University San Marcos on Friday, March 18, San Diego MESA College – Monday, March 21 and at the University of San Diego (USD) on Tuesday, March 22. Film producer John Valadez will be present at each of the showings. Mr. Valadez has shown the film in many communities, colleges and universities across the nation.  Free admission to the film presentation. (There may be parking charges at each campus)

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