Dr. Garcia dedicated his life to the practice of medicine, political activism, and public service. His accomplishments can be counted in the dozens of awards he received for these efforts—including the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom—but also in the thousands of lives he made better. Today, Dr. Garcia’s family remains dedicated to preserving and perpetuating his incredible legacy. Their efforts ensure that his impact will be felt for generations to come.

Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom

On March 26, 1984, President Ronald Reagan presented Dr. Garcia with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, making him the first Mexican American to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor. The award citation acknowledged that Dr. Garcia’s work had not only impacted the lives of Mexican Americans, but that “through his efforts… he has made this a better country.”

Notice about the Presidential Medal of Freedom

In this notice, Dr. Garcia informs AGIF members that he will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and expresses gratitude to his family, President Reagan, and the AGIF.

Dr. Hector P. Garcia Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Dr. Garcia shakes hands with President Reagan during his Presidential Medal of Freedom award ceremony at the White House.

Dr. Hector P. Garcia and Wanda Garcia

Dr. Garcia proudly wears the Presidential Medal of Freedom in this photograph with his wife Wanda.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Dr. Garcia’s Presidential Medal of Freedom citation references his community-building endeavors, his work with the AGIF, and his faithful representation of the government.

Celebrating His Achievements

Throughout his life and after his death, Dr. Garcia received countless awards and honors that stand in testament to the change he brought about in Corpus Christi, in Texas, and beyond. From medals from foreign countries to schools named in his honor, these accolades acknowledge his role as one of the most effective civil rights leaders in American history. 

Dr. Hector P. Garcia Receiving Award from Panama

In 1965, Dr. Garcia received Panama’s Orden de Vasco Nunez de Balboa award for his exemplary diplomatic work.

Political Education Award, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented Dr. Garcia with a Political Education Award, acknowledging his “crusade for voters.”

Texas Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Dr. Clotilde Garcia also received recognition for her promotion of civil and women’s rights. In 1984, she gave this speech when she was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award

In 1989, the University of Texas created this biographical video when it honored Dr. Garcia with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Preserving His Life's Work

In 1982, Dr. Garcia began to donate his personal papers to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Wanda Garcia continued to make donations after Dr. Garcia’s death on July 26, 1996. In addition to preserving and providing access to the valuable collection, the University honored Dr. Garcia’s legacy with the 1996 dedication of the Hector P. Garcia Plaza, a campus gathering spot that includes a statue of the civil rights activist.

Education was his Freedom Poster, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi Bell Library

This poster advertises an exhibit of Dr. Garcia’s papers on display at the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Bell Library.

Dr. Hector P. Garcia Speaking at Bell Library

Dr. Garcia speaks at an event marking his donation to the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Bell Library.
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