Manipulations and Distortions

“No Mexicans” sign not from Three Rivers: Producer, John Valadez, admitted that the “No Mexican” sign was "artistic license," not an actual fact of Three Rivers. The sign is used this same way in publicity. When confronted by several viewers at the University of Texas screening, Valadez flew into a fit of rage and stomped from the theater. Neither Anglos nor Hispanics have memory of such signs existing in Three Rivers.


Following the sign, Sara Posas, who is known to have a personal grudge against a specific ‘white’ person, then says that Three Rivers had these signs. In another documentary (Justice for My People) this same interviewee claimed to have been made to sit in the balcony at the theatre in Three Rivers. When Posas lived in Three Rivers, the theatre was a one story structure without a balcony. Multiple Hispanics remember sitting on the front row of that theatre and the new one which opened with a balcony 10 years after Posas moved away from Three Rivers. One of those is Felix Longoria’s sister.  This hostile witness continues to slam Three Rivers throughout the film.


Embedding Racist View: Posas’ rant is played over and over in publicity serving to embed the image with viewers both before and after seeing the film.


Kennedy's honesty ignored. In the film, Santiago Hernandez correctly quotes the question of the Corpus Christi Reporter, George Groh, to Mr. Kennedy, “Did you refuse the chapel at your funeral home for the wake of Felix Longoria, a Mexican American soldier?” Hernandez does not recognize that the quote is not, “…because he is a Mexican American soldier?”  No one asked Kennedy in that conversation if he refused the chapel "because" Longoria was “Mexican American”. He had refused to use the chapel if it meant excluding the Longorias, not because Beatrice and Felix were of Mexican descent. Since 1949, media has ignored the question asked. Kennedy answered truthfully, but the media and the film proceed as though Kennedy said it was "because" he was Mexican American.


Terminology twisted: Patrick Carroll, author of Felix Longoria's Wake, says that people of Three Rivers did not even use the terminology, “Mexican American” implying that they did not respect Hispanics. Carroll as a historian must know not to judge one culture time by another. Politically correct wording at that time was “Latin American”. The term Kennedy used.


When Valadez asked Susan Kennedy, Kennedy's daughter, about this terminology "Latin American", she answered by explaining the difference between what was politically correct in 1949 and now. In the film, the question about her father's decision is asked. Susan's answer regarding "Latin American" is cut and placed to appear her answer refers to disallowing use of the chapel to Mexican Americans. Susan's statement is then used with the much exploited Kennedy quote, "We've never done that, and we don't intend to start now," to explain "that".


Groh, the Corpus reporter, provided words for the pronoun "that" and wrote that Kennedy had never allowed Mexicans in the funeral chapel. Kennedy was saying he had refused Beatrice's request because he had never refused to let a deceased's family attend services in the chapel. "That" is what he had never done. 


There is much evidence of the use of the term, "Latin" in 1949 literature. Valadez requested Patty Reagan mail him a set of Three Rivers annuals after Hudson sent him pictures from them using that term. In those annuals Valadez also saw where Three Rivers raised $5,000.00 to help the family of popular young Hispanic who was injured in a football game earlier in the fall of the same school year as the Longoria incident in January. Not one word of good relations between Three Rivers "whites" and Hispanics is mentioned in the video.


Reagan Context: Context is manipulated as Patty Reagan’s (Correct spelling of her name) of feeling color blind because she was not aware of discrimination among her peers when growing up in Three Rivers. Her statement is followed with a scene of a little Hispanic child pushing his old worn out foot scooter on a sidewalk in front of the Three Rivers’ school all alone and forlorn. The discount of her statement is obvious to viewers with an unwritten label of bigotry given to her.


Santiago Hernandez: Santiago Hernandez captioned as “Three Rivers” is one of the greatest distortions and manipulations of the film. Hernandez was born and educated in Corpus Christi. He has always lived there. He lives with his wife and almost grown children in a nice two story brick home located in a well kept middle class neighborhood of Corpus Christi. Hernandez works at the Federal Correctional Institution about eight miles outside Three Rivers. His paycheck comes from the Federal Prison through the bank in Three Rivers, but his children go to school in Corpus as do his taxes. Hernandez drives more than 150 miles a day to and from work. He is captioned as a local Three Rivers’ musician and filmed numerous times in what appears to be less than standard housing giving the viewer the impression it is his home in Three Rivers. Comments posted by viewers show that the film’s deception worked.


Richard Hudson:  Richard Hudson is misrepresented as a resident of Three Rivers. He is not, nor has he been for the past sixty years. His family moved away when he was four years old. He returned for visits with relatives during summers and weekends until early adult life. He has been a resident of the Fort Worth, Texas area for the past forty years. The producer is aware of this. Once Hudson learned of the captioning, he protested being portrayed as a Three Rivers’ resident, but the producer did not heed his protestations and continued to caption him in the film as a “Three Rivers” interviewee.


The City Hall Scene: Hernandez, the narrator of the City Hall scene that follows Posas’ racist rant, fails to mention and the camera fails to show the Hispanic mayor of Three Rivers and the three Hispanic council members among just two Anglos. The council’s decision is blamed totally on the white ‘racist’ element. Further suggesting that all whites are racist. The council information of the Hispanic content existed and is relevant. Neither does Hernandez mention that his behavior and yelling at that meeting caused the Hispanic mayor to have him ejected, nor that Hernandez’ behavior and comments are the reason for the stern looks of the people in City Hall.


Protest March: A bus load of people from Corpus Christi marching in the streets of Three Rivers carrying huge banners that say, “Mexicans are not welcome even in death” deceives the viewers in numerous ways. First, on that very day, the Three Rivers City Council was celebrating "Felix Longoria Day" and presented a memorandum to the Longoria family in remembrance of Felix.  it Viewers believe marchers are Hispanic Three Rivers’ citizens. They do not know this is a bus load of people brought from Corpus Chrisit to roust the town. Hernandez states in the film that marchers are going to City Hall with the impression that they are attending the City Hall Post Office meeting. The march took place months later in an effort to shame the City even though the council was celebrating Felix Longoria Day that very day honoring Longoria’s birthday, also not mentioned in the film.


Property Ownership: Dr. Patrick Carroll, a historian and author of Felix Longoria's Wake, says that “Mexicans” could not buy property in the “white” part of town, and “whites” could not sell property to “Mexicans”. Dr. Carroll knows that this is not true of Three Rivers, though it was true of much of South Texas and Corpus Christi where Dr. Hector Garcia lived.  

Dr. Garcia made an inspection of Three Rivers about a week after Felix Longoria’s burial. He tells of visiting at least three Hispanic families who lived across the tracks in the “white part of town”. Mr. Tips and his family moved to San Antonio in the late twenties, and he hired an agent to continue selling property. The agent inquired about selling to Hispanics anywhere in the town. Mr. Tips encouraged him to continue doing so saying he always found them reliable. (Tips’ Family Archives.)


Birth of Three Rivers: The narrator of the film states that Charles Tips, the developer of Three Rivers, brought in mostly Southerners who brought their slave and segregationist attitudes with them. In actuality, Three Rivers was a multicultural community established in 1913 almost fifty years after the Civil War with mostly Germans, and smaller portions of Hispanic, Polish, Czech, French, and Jewish inhabitants. Especially the Germans of early Texas are known not to promote slavery. Neither did the Hispanics or Jews. Many 1949 inhabitants of Three Rivers came from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and other American Mid-West states. They did not participate in slavery either.


Tips welcomed Mexican inhabitants by placing ads written in Spanish throughout the region. He came from Seguin, where the town was named for a well known Hispanic hero. He did follow the custom of providing a separate area for Hispanics where they could practice their cultural traditions of raising and killing goats and other stock in their back yards along with free range chickens. He offered land to them at lower prices than those who bought nearer the town. The film portrays the separate area and the naming of streets in this part of town known as The Atascosa Addition (This name not mentioned in the film.) as sinister and maliciously separated from the rest of the town. The street names were chosen from among the best and most well known Hispanic heroes, many whom Tips knew and chose to honor in this way.


The Cemeteries: Valadez narrates prominently displayed publicity saying that Longoria would have had to lay interred on the opposite side of a barbed wire fence between the Mexican side and the Anglo side of the Three Rivers’ Cemetery.


Hudson explained two existing cemeteries to Valadez.


The first begun about 1915 was the Three Rivers Cemetery begun for all. There was no special place for Mexicans, and Mexicans were not excluded. The problem for most Mexican families was cultural. The Anglos plotted symmetrical streets, grass covered graves that needed water and mowing, and all monuments faced eastward. A perimeter fence was necessary to keep deer and cattle from eating vegetation and breaking monuments.


The second, The Longoria Cemetery, named for Guadalupe Longoria, Felix' father, was purchased in the 1920s by Guadalupe Longoria and several Mexican American friends. They desired a place to practice their own customs. Their love of nature preferred wildflowers left to seed naturally each year on the graves and the rest of the graveyard. It mattered not if the graveyard was just dirt afterwards. More flowers would grow as the seasons progressed. Some liked to erect a celebratory arch and cover it with flowers, place family mementos on graves, rocks to mark their prayerful visits, and a place to celebrate on El Dia de los Muertos and remember all those gone before.  Guadalupe Longoria, Felix's dad, was trustee.  


These two separate cemeteries were never divided by a fence. The Longoria family verifies this as do others who lived there. When the Mexicans asked the land owner for additional land to have their own cemetery, they could have purchased land anywhere. They chose land adjoining Three Rivers Cemetery. The Three Rivers Cemetery was in need of a new fence and then paid Longoria to build a new perimeter fence around the outside space of both cemeteries. It has been fenced so ever since. 


By the time Valadez visited the cemetery, he found three cemeteries within the current perimeter fence. The third cemetery begun sometime ago is a Catholic cemetery named St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery. 


Dr. Garcia visited Three Rivers about a week after the Arlington burial expecting to find an unkempt Mexican area some distance away from an all Anglo cemetery.  After viewing the area, the worst he could say about it was, “There appears to be the remnants of a fence.” That was in 1949, the same period of time Valadez tells viewers a barbed wire fence existed.


Valadez information comes from Carl Allsup who added "barbed wire fence" into his doctoral dissertation, The American G.I. Forum: Origin and Evolution, in his chapter, "The Felix Longoria Affair".


Hudson made Valadez aware of Allsup's disingenuous addition of misinformation. Valadez cut Hudson's explanation of the two cemeteries documented with deeds and Longoria family information to make it look like one cemetery was divided by Anglos to separate Mexicans from Anglos and adds his own comment that the cemetery was segregated "even in death by barbed wire". 


Hecklers brought to Three Rivers: Hernandez playing himself as a local disguises the fact in the film that outsiders use the town. Even though, not a veteran himself, Hernandez helped form a Felix Longoria chapter for the GI Forum in Corpus Christi (CC). When the CC Forum would not admit the chapter, a fight filmed by TV cameras erupted. The question of their membership was tabled. Hernandez has made his mission keeping the Felix Longoria 1949 newspaper story alive. Driving this mission creates political and popular business gains for his mariachi band in Corpus Christi. The film’s deception works outside Three Rivers, while the people of Three Rivers choose to go on about their business.





The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

The Longoria Affair Revealed, Richard Hudson, "Manipulations and Distortions'" accessed from: your date of use here.

Uploaded on September 10 2018. Modified on February 7, 2019. Published by Agarita Publishing.