When a Fallen Mexican American War Hero Was Denied a Wake, a Civil Rights Push Began

When a Fallen Mexican American War Hero Was Denied a Wake, a Civil Rights Push Began

“White people won’t like it.”

When a funeral home in a small town in Texas, using those words, refused to hold a vigil for decorated World War II veteran Felix Longoria, the controversy that followed propelled the Mexican civil rights struggle. Americans on the national stage – with the help of an uprising. US Senator named Lyndon Johnson.

Private Longoria, a Mexican American soldier from Three Rivers, Texas, was tracking down Japanese soldiers retreating from Luzon Island in the Philippines when a sniper shot him dead months before the end of WWII global. His heroic actions posthumously earned him the Purple Heart and other military medals.

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