1st Battalion 22nd Infantry



Macario Garcia

Company B 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry



Macario Garcia being treated as a celebrity in the Texas newspapers 1945

From the PBS website




On August 23, 1945 Macario Garcia was presented with the Medal of Honor in Washington. D.C. by President Harry S. Truman.

Garcia returned to his home in Sugarland, Texas, a part of the metropolitan area of Houston in Fort Bend County.

Two weeks later on September 7, 1945 he was the subject of an article and photo in the Houston Post newspaper
announcing the presentation to him of an award citation by the Good Neighbor Commission at the Civil Courthouse
in Richmond, the County seat of Fort Bend County and also a part of the metropolitan area of Houston.

That same day he was also the subject of articles in other newspapers celebrating him as a local and national hero.

Two days later on September 9, 1945 he was given a party and dance in his honor at the City Hall in Richmond, Texas.

One day later on September 10, 1945 Garcia went into the Oasis cafe in Richmond and was refused service because he was Mexican.
Garcia was wearing his uniform at the time and therefore presumably also his Medal of Honor ribbon and yet he was denied service
because of his ethnic background. He argued with the cafe owner and the argument turned violent with Garcia demolishing much
of the cafe's property and at one time himself being beaten with a baseball bat.

The police were called to the scene and Garcia was brought to jail. No charges were filed and he was told to go home
though the whole time he demanded to know why he was refused service and never received a satisfactory reply.

Local lawyer John J. Herrera who had met Garcia at the presentation of the Good Neighbor Award related the incident to the
popular radio show host Walter Winchell who featured the story on his weekly broadcast, calling national attention to the
community of Richmond. Winchell's derogatory comments about Richmond and the community's discriminatory treatment
of a war hero embarrassed local officials and criminal charges of aggravated assault were filed against Garcia for the incident
of September 10.

As the case gained more public attention more resources were aligned to help Garcia. Hererra became Garcia's lawyer and donations
for Garcia's defense poured in from across the State. A prominent lawyer from San Antonio joined Garcia's defense team and
civil authorities made several postponements of the trial.

Garcia's defense lawyer of record then became James Allred, a former Governor of Texas and former Federal Judge who was
soon to be re-appointed to a Federal Judiciary position and who was asked by President Truman to take a hand in Garica's defense.

Richmond County authorities postponed the trial again and eventually quietly dropped the charges against Garcia with no publicity
or fanfare.

Macario Garcia thus became an early pioneer in Civil Rights in 1945 and his case pre-dated the later and more popularly
thought of beginnings of Civil Rights of the 1950's.

Though he did not set about to become a champion of Civil Rights on September 10, 1945 at the Oasis cafe, Macario Garcia
faced events as they unfolded that night with the same determination and resolute strength that he faced events on the battlefield
in Europe. Both in combat and back home in society Garcia remains as a true hero and example of what an American should be.



Macario Garcia's first name is misspelled in the above article

From the LULAC Council 60 website



Garcia's case made headlines

From the PBS website



From the LULAC Council 60 website



From the LULAC Council 60 website



The Oasis cafe in Richmond, Texas where Macario Garcia was refused service

From the PBS website



Sign inside a Texas restaurant

From the PBS website



From the PBS website



From the PBS website



Article from The Abilene Reporter-News Thursday October 18, 1945




Russell Contreras an Associated Press reporter and photographer gives a poignant recounting of Macario Garcia's place
in the history of Civil Rights with the following passage:

In a White House ceremony on August 23, 1945, President Harry Truman presented Macario, a Mexican immigrant,
with the Medal of Honor. He was the first Mexican immigrant to receive the Medal of Honor. He also received the Purple Heart
Medal, Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

When he returned to Houston a couple of weeks later, he was met with a hero’s welcome. The League of United Latin American Citizens –
then the largest Latino civil rights organization – sponsored a special dance in his honor and Mexican American civil rights leaders retold
the story of his bravery on radio and in speeches.

But despite that celebration, the decorated soldier soon discovered that the situation in Texas had changed little. A day after the dance
in his honor, Macario was refused service at the Oasis Cafe in Richmond, Texas, despite being awarded the Congressional Medal of
Honor less than a month before. According to restaurant owner Donna Andrews, she refused him service "because he had been drinking.“
But Macario would tell others he was refused service because he was "Mexican.” Macario would refuse to leave and, following a heated
argument, he broke dishes and other cafe equipment. He also slapped Andrews after she allegedly made racial slurs.

“He disabled the place,” said Ernest Eguia, a fellow WWII Army veteran and friend.

Macario Garcia was soon facing aggravated assault charges.

The case drew the attention of Houston civil rights attorney John J. Herrera who started publicizing the event as an example of the
discrimination Mexican Americans still faced in 1945, veterans or not. A "Garcia Committee" was formed to raise funds for his defense
as Mexican Americans throughout Texas, poor and middle-class, began sending in money. Even sympathetic whites started lending support.
Former Texas attorney general and former governor James Allred agreed to represent Macario for an upcoming trial in Fort Bend County.

The publicity around the case, now drawing national attention, was too much for Fort Bend County officials and the charges were dropped.
But the community was galvanized. LULAC Council 60, the council of growing Houston, reported a spike in membership. Congressional
hearings were called to investigate how other Mexican American returning veterans were being denied services and experiencing discrimination
despite putting their lives on the line. A movement had begun.

From the Russell Contreras tumblr page




To view a detailed 15 page article published in the Indiana Law Journal about the historical and legal aspects of the incident
involving Macario Garcia at the Oasis cafe click on the link below.

The link is to a PDF file. To return to this page click the "back" arrow in the PDF file.


The "Trial of the Century" that Never Was: Staff Sgt. Macario Garcia, the Congressional Medal of Honor, and the Oasis Cafè











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