Make Garcia wing a real priority at A&M-CC
The beauty and magnificence of the buildings on the Texas A&M University– Corpus Christi campus make me proud to be a three-time graduate of that university.
As an educator, knowing that it is a place of learning intensifies the feeling of jubilance, and I am happy knowing that members of my family and community are benefiting from the highcaliber instructors who teach there.
Still, as an alumnus, I feel a sense of yearning for a stronger connection that reflects the diversity, struggles and triumphs of the people in South Texas.
A building on campus dedicated to cultural studies makes perfect sense because of our rich local history and our proximity to the Mexican border. Perhaps financial restraints or ethnic and class bias have deterred such a building in the past.
But now, thanks to the efforts of one of Dr. Hector P. Garcia’s daughters, Cecilia Garcia Akers, and the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation, a renewed opportunity has arisen to establish a place on the A&M-CC campus recognizing the accomplishments of our local advocates and to create future opportunities for further recognition of our pioneer families.
Mrs. Garcia Akers is working toward the building of the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Learning Center, a library wing that will exhibit the physician’s archived documents and photographs, and, as an added result, the accomplishments of Corpus Christians with whom he worked.
In constructing this wing, we will break the socioeconomic oppression that for so long has plagued our diverse community and dismissed the contributions of many South Texans.
Mrs. Garcia Akers, in fundraising, advocating and lobbying for the library wing, is essentially pushing to showcase the Mexican-American experience in a university setting. She and the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation have been steadfast in this activity for at least the past three years.
For the first time, the Mexican-American civil rights movement has a real opportunity to take its rightful place of intellectual prevalence on a university campus in the city from which it originated.
During the past legislative session, the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation lobbied legislators for financial assistance with the wing. University President Flavius Killebrew told Mrs. Garcia Akers that the wing was number three on the university’s list of legislative priorities.
He lauded the work of the foundation and it seemed that A&M–CC and the Texas A&M University System were jumping at this opportunity to be the principal resource for the Mexican- American civil rights movement in the nation.
In a forum article in the Caller-Times on Aug. 23, “Can’t expand library for Dr. Hector without help,” Dr. Killebrew reiterated that during the legislative session that ended on June 1, 2015, the university brought forward three building priorities to the Legislature with the third being the expansion of the library to include the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Learning Center.
He wrote that “…the university will continue to request state support for the library expansion.”
He also reaffirmed the university’s commitment and collaboration with the foundation and challenged the community to help with fundraising efforts.
However, if the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Learning Center was third on the priority list, why was it not included in the university’s Legislative Appropriations Request submitted by A&M-CC to the Legislature on October 2014 before the session began?
If it was third on the legislative priority list, why, according to the documents and video, was it absent from the A&M-CC presentation by Dr. Killebrew before the Texas House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Education on Feb. 19, 2015?
If it was third on the legislative priority list, why was our area’s legislative delegation unable to find A&M-CC documents supporting this legislative priority at the capitol?
Although I understand that the university needs funding for classrooms, even though the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Learning Center would provide such, what does third on the legislative priority list signify? What kind of effort, if one at all, was initiated by the university to advocate for this third legislative priority at the capitol?
I believe that the building of the new library wing will be a positive step for this community and an opportunity to bring due diligence to all the participants in the Mexican-American civil rights movement.
And I will continue to hope that one day I will feel a stronger connection to Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi, my alma mater.
Dr. Nancy S. Vera is president of Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers, Texas education chairwoman of the League of United Latin American Citizens, a South Texas Human Rights Center board member and a founding member of the Caller-Times Hispanic Advisory Committee.