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Hispanic Heritage

Discriminación a un mártir

("Discrimination Against a Martyr")

"Discriminación a un mártir", is one of the first and an outstanding example of the victim corrido. Written in 1949, it documents the case of Private Félix Longoria, a soldier killed in action during World War II. A native of Three Rivers, Texas, Longoria was killed in 1945 in combat against the Japanese. Like many men killed in action, Private Longoria was temporarily buried in the Philippines. When his remains were finally exhumed in 1949 and flown to his relatives in Texas, the local funeral home refused to provide funeral services, citing the past practice against funerals for Mexicans.

The Mexican American community, shocked and outraged by the funeral home's discrimination, applied pressure on authorities until Lyndon B. Johnson, then senator for the state of Texas, yielded to their demands for justice and had the remains of Private Longoria flown to Arlington National Cemetery for burial there. The following stanzas convey the theme of moral outrage:

When the body of the soldier
with his next-of-kin,
the mortuary in his hometown
denied him a funeral.
That is discrimination arrived
against a poor human being;
not even in a cemetery
do they admit a Mexican.

Source: Hispanic American Almanac, Gale, 1997; DISCovering Multicultural America, Gale, 1999.

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