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The Occurence That Shaped History

By Nidia Yanez
On February 15, 2011

  • TAMIU Communication professors with John Valadez (far right)

The controversy which originated in Three Rivers, Texas led to the portrayal of The Longoria Affairwhich was screened on Feb. 8, 2010. The screening was held at the Texas A&M International University'sStudent Center Theater among students and members of the community.

John Valadez, the filmmaker behind The Longoria Affair, was present. Earlier throughout the day, Valadez lectured to Dr. Flores Transnational Trends in Communications and Dr. Moran's Video Production courses, mentioning the importance of embracing culture.

Valadez commenced his lecture by asking the class whether they knew who had commenced the civil rights movement. A few guesses later, Valadez highlighted something that no one in the classroom had known: Mexican Americans were catalysts for the civil rights movement.

Throughout the lecture, students had the opportunity to learn about the beginning of John Valadez's career through explaining the history behind his first documentary, "Passin' it on." After the lecture, students were invited to the showing of The Longoria Affair.

In The Longoria Affair, Valadez demonstrated how the refusal of a funeral home in Three Rivers, Texas to hold a wake for Mexican American soldier, Felix Longoria, went from a local story to a national controversy.  Throughout the documentary, prominent figures of history were presented including the then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and activist Dr. Hector Garcia.

Johnson and Garcia created an alliance, portrayed throughout the documentary as a love-hate relationship, in which Garcia hoped for the passing of a civil rights legislation.

Valadez mentioned how, "it was Mexican Americans who tipped the balance in putting John Kennedy in the White House, who pestered all over Lyndon Johnson for sixteen years to put pressure on him to sign the most important piece of civil rights legislation".

Members of the audience had the opportunity to pose questions to Valadez. Among those questions, Valadez informed the audience that when he was first introduced to the story at Three Rivers, he did not regard it as an important story. It was until he noticed how the story grew into something no one had imagined, that he knew that it was an important story to share.

Ultimately, numerous members of the audience also expressed their appreciation to Valadez for creating such documentary and learning more about their cultural heritage. 

(Nidia Yanez may be reached at





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