Ricardo Garcia: mover and shaker for social change and social justice.

Author:Coulombe, Charles A.


No complete history of the struggle for Latino civil rights and equality in this country could be written without mentioning Ricardo R, Garcia. Articles have been written about his co-founding of rural Washington State's Spanish language public radio station KDNA with Julio Cesar Guerrero, Rosa Ramon, and Daniel Robleski In 1979. Calling itself "Radio Cadena, La Voz del Campesino," the fledgling station's mix of music and activism caught the attention of Cesar Chavez. Impressed after visiting the station, Chavez used it as a model for several radio stations he launched In California. Garcia remained as Station Manager for many years, although he is now retired. His accomplishments are public record. But what about the man himself? What led him to such a sterling life in public service?

Garcia was born and raised in the small town of San Diego, Texas. "My elementary and high school education was bilingual," he recalls. I could read, write and speak fluently by the time I graduated. Ninety-eight per cent of the teachers and administrators were Hispanic. Even though I was raised in poverty, I didn't know that we were second class citizens. There was no college in my future, and many of my friends went into the military. So after I graduated from high school In 1957, I did the same, training in army administration at Ft. Ord, California. I did time in South Korea, ending my service at Ft. Lewis, Washington.

It was the Army that brought him to the Yakima Valley, located in Eastern Washington, where I participated in Army maneuvers as a medical supply specialist On week-end passes, I went down to the Yakima Valley because I had learned that farm worker from Texas were present doing harvest work.

On one of my visits, I met my future wife, Monica at a public dance. When I got out of the service, I stayed in Yakima, and got married in 1962. We became the parents of three children ... Rene, Maria and Eliza, and are now the grandparents of five ... Nicolas, Elise, Benjamin, Julia and Mia."

He became active in the Catholic Church. "I made a Cursillo, and met many of my future activist friends. The priests pushed us to join the government funded community based organizations (CBO) that were being started through the War on Poverty programs of 1964. About that time, I became aware of what Cesar Chavez was starting in California; organizing farm workers. In California as well as In Washington, the farm workers were treated as second...

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