Louis Wilmot - LULAC story page 2
12A CORPUS CHRISTI TIMES, Fri., Feb. 21, 1975 Joe Garza (right) was founder . , Louis Wilmot was first treasurer LULAC [ From Page 1 Americans." he said. "We traveled around to a half-dozen towns in a Model-T, going around preaching the gospel, telling them they should join for the good of their children," Garza said. The names of the earlier organizations were chosen, Wilmot said, "because we wanted to be identified as Americans." The term of Latin-American was chosen, Garza said, because "we wanted to get away from the word Mexican." "We were trying to educate (the Anglo c o m m u n i t y ) to at least call us Latin-American," Garza said. Both men object to the term Chicano. "We're all Americans," Wilmot asserts. ' The first object of their efforts was the school systems and the elimination of the common "Mexican school." The local "Mexican school" was located at the comer of Tancahua and Leopard. The high school was integrated but there were few Mexican-American high school students in those days. LULAC went to school officials pleading their cause, "appealing to the goodness of their hearts to help us." LULAC was eventually successful in opening the elementary schools to Mexican-American children and also opened local j u r i e s to Mexican- Americans. Garza and Wilmot agree that the progress of LULAC was slow because it worked through the courts and the proper channels. "Some of these young men," Garza said disapprovingly of newly formed, militant groups, "they want things done now. They want to straighten things out today, not tomorrow." Garza said of the current school desegregation controversy: "We're reaping today the wrong that was long ago when the school districts gerrymandered." "Busing will not accomplish anything," he says, only a change in the school boundaries will achieve integration. When LULAC began, the two said, could count on one hand the number Mexican-American lawyers in Texas the count was equally slim for doctors, a r c h i t e c t s , teachers professionals. Now Mexican-Americans are in every profession, he said, largely to the LULAC and other pioneers in the fight Mexican-American civil rights. But, he said with a trace of bitterness, many of these professionals, "forget beginnings and they forget their people stil! need their help." "They owe something," Garza said. "If (those men who met at Obreros Hall) had not lifted a finger, we'd still nothing but laborers," he said. Both men see a saddening development among some Mexican-American families. The children are growing up not how to speak Spanish and with no knowledge of their heritage. "It's a tragedy," Garza said. "These children should be taught something their heritage." "They can't deny they are Mexican they know nothing about their heritage," he said. Wilmot is a retired watchmaker and Garza, who was once active in business also retired. Garza expresses high admiration for brother, Ben Garza, after whom the park is named. "He was enough man become a leader of his people."