About the AGIF
The American GI Forum (AGIF) is a community based membership enterprise dedicated to promoting education, advancing cultural understanding and quality of life for Mexican Americans who have served in the armed forces. The American GI Forum was formed on March 26, 1948, when 700 Mexican-American veterans, led by Dr. Hector P. Garcia, met in Corpus Christi, Texas and organized the group, a civil-rights organization devoted to securing equal rights for Hispanic Americans.
The first issue the forum dealt with was the failure of the Veterans Administration to deliver earned benefits through the G.I. Bill of Rights of 1944. After securing those benefits, the forum addressed other veterans' concerns, such as hospital care and Mexican-American representation on draft boards.
In 1949 the director of the Rice Funeral Home in Three Rivers refused the use of his chapel for the funeral of Private Felix Longoria. Dr. Garcia and the Corpus Christi forum organized a widespread protest that gained national attention. Eventually, through the intervention of Lyndon B. Johnson, Longoria was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The incident in Three Rivers established the forum as an effective civil-rights advocate for Hispanics and expanded the scope and nature of its activities.
In 1958 the American G.I. Forum became a national organization, and its members led Mexican Americans into national politics. In the 1960 presidential campaign, Viva Kennedy-Viva Johnson clubs, administered by the American G.I. Forum and LULAC leaders, helped to win Texas and New Mexico for John F. Kennedy. Robert Kennedy stated that the Spanish-speaking vote won the election for his brother.
The American G.I. Forum was chartered in by Congress on January 26,1998. The American G.I. Forum played a significant role in the application of Great Society programs in the barrios, and for the first time Latin Americans were appointed to influential positions and agencies. When Johnson established the first cabinet level office for Hispanic issues, he selected a former national chairman of the American G.I. Forum, Vicente Ximenes, for the position.
The American G.I. Forum continued its work through the1970’s, which included the first application of the due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to de facto Mexican-American school segregation in Corpus Christi. In 1983 Dr. Garcia received an award for distinguished accomplishment from President Ronald Reagan.
The American G.I. Forum has continued its work to improve our ethnic communities by keeping a constant vigil on the rights of the people of this Great Nation. Additional information on the American GI Forum background, including genesis, purpose and mission here: www.agif.org