$10 Million Plans for a Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

$10 Million Plans for a Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

Did you know that Dr. Hector P. Garcia was the first Hispanic to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

He was also the only Mexican-American in his medical school class. That's because only one Hispanic a year was allowed in the school.

It is facts like those that the memorial foundation that bears his name wants the public to know more about. In fact, a $10 million plan calls for a presidential-like library to be built to do just that and more.

Garcia was a Mexican-American civil rights activist, a doctor and a friend to people like President John F. Kennedy, one of five presidents Dr. Garcia worked with to help open up doors to Hispanics and others who didn't have a voice.

"The first American to give a speech at the United Nations in a language other than English," said Cecilia Garcia-Akers, his daughter. "And he gave the speech in Spanish to the U.N. Assembly and he spoke on nuclear weapons, go figure."

Cecilia took 3News on a tour of the massive amount of her father's photographs and papers that Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has stored on the second floor of their library.

Unfortunately, there is only room to display a small portion of those historical documents, and that is something Cecilia wants to change. She is now working to build a new wing at the library that will be devoted to her father. The tab? $10 million.

"We have 2,000 photographs, one length of a football field in documents, and we want to set it up like a presidential library," Cecilia said.

The Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation will make a big fundraising push after the New Year to get the $10 million. His daughter believes people will give because of her father's legacy.

"Look how many Hispanics are now doctors and lawyers and judges and elected officials, and it's because he paved the way," Cecilia said. "He helped them. He started it many, many years ago because he saw the need."

Next year also marks the doctor's 100th birthday. The Foundation hopes it can observe that special day with the money to cover the cost of the museum to honor the South Texas civil rights leader.

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