The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 473
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The Mexican America equivalent of Rosa Parks may well have been Beatrice
Moreno de Longoria. Her husband, U.S. Army Pvt. Felix Longoria, was killed
during combat in the Philippines in World War II. As the army prepared to ship
his body to his hometown of Three Rivers in South Texas, the director of the
local funeral home, Thomas Kennedy, refused to make the chapel available for
the wake because he feared that Anglos would object to Mexicans using the facil-
ity. By fighting such discrimination, Beatrice began the most significant civil
rights protest in Mexican American history. She appealed to Dr. Hector P.
Garcia, president of the American GI Forum, a Mexican American civil rights
group, who organized the Mexican community and contacted Texas Sen.
Lyndon B. Johnson, whose intercession resulted in Longoria's burial in
Arlington Cemetery on February 16, 1949. Patrick J. Carroll concludes that for
Mexican Americans the Longoria incident "provided a rallying point for collec-
tively striking back against a culture of discrimination that prevailed in South
Texas and much of the rest of the Southwest" (p. 185).
Carroll has wrung every ounce of significance from the Longoria case. He
places the incident within the history of anti-Mexican racism in South Texas,
where Mexican Americans suffered from racism on a daily basis. He shows per-
suasively that the Longoria incident quickly grew from a local dispute into a
national and international controversy. Anglos and Mexicans viewed Longoria's
burial in Arlington Cemetery as a protest against anti-Mexican discrimination in
Texas. The Longoria case significantly affected the delicate negotiations
between the United States and Mexico on the renewal of the bracero program.
Mexico had previously refused to send braceros to Texas due to anti-Mexican hos-
tility and the Longoria incident once again demonstrated the degree of racism
toward Mexicans that prevailed in the state. The case was also an important and
under-appreciated aspect of LBJ's early Senate career.
Carroll's research is thorough and he has made excellent use of oral history.
He interviewed members of the Longoria and Kennedy families and Three
Rivers officials. The information from these oral histories provides insights into
the emotions of those involved in the dispute. The book is gracefully written.
However, there is some repetition (for example, the author twice describes the
economic transformation of South Texas from a ranching to a commercial agri-
cultural economy within a few pages, 78-79 and 99). Though Carroll asserts that
the American GI Forum was a "powerful national force" (p. 112) he does not
describe much of anything else it accomplished other than the Longoria case.
There is little mention of the repatriation of Mexican nationals during the
1930s, which other historians have argued shaped the character of Mexican
American leadership in the 1940s.
The author skillfully uses the Longoria case to discuss and interpret Mexican
American history and culture, Texas race relations and politics, and U.S./Mexico
diplomacy. That he is able to offer fresh insights into the political career of LBJ is
testament to the author's thorough research and creative analysis.
JOSEPH A. RODRIGUEZ
University of Wsconsin-Milwaukee
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/531/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.