The Longoria Affair

The Longoria Affair

  • BY John J. Valadez |
    Premiered November 9, 2010

About the Film

Sixty years ago in Three Rivers, Texas, the only funeral home in town refused to hold a wake for Felix Longoria, a decorated Mexican American soldier killed in battle during World War II. Longoria’s widow was told, simply, “The whites wouldn’t like it.” MORE

Those words became front-page news across the country, sparking outrage and setting off a series of events that would come to be known as the Longoria Affair. The incident fueled the rise of a national civil rights movement led by Mexican American veterans, and bitterly divided Three Rivers for generations to come.

Two stubborn and savvy leaders, newly elected Senator Lyndon Johnson and activist Dr. Hector Garcia, formed an alliance over the incident. Over the next 15 years, their complex, sometimes contentious relationship would help Latinos become a national force for the first time in American history, carry John F. Kennedy to the White House, and ultimately lead to Johnson’s signature on the most important civil rights legislation of the 20th century.

Today the town of Three Rivers still struggles with its past. Local musician and activist Santiago Hernandez wants to honor Felix Longoria by naming the post office after him. But many Anglo residents are angered by the idea. They believe discrimination against Mexican Americans never existed in their town and the Longoria Affair was blown up for political gain.

Past and present collide as Mexican Americans and Anglo Americans engage in a bitter struggle over the meaning of civil rights and the history of segregation.


The Filmmaker

Director John J. Valadez is a founding member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. His previous films include: The Chicano Wave (PBS, 2009), The Last Conquistador (P.O.V., 2008), High Stakes (CNN, 2005), Matters of Race (PBS 2001), and Passin’ It On (P.O.V., 1994). LESS

Film Credits

Written, Produced, and Directed by
John J. Valadez

Tony Plana

Pamela A. Aguilar

Merril Stern

Elia Lyssy

Richard Martinez

Graphic Design
Luc Gorczynski

Location Sound
John J. Valadez
Pamela A. Aguilar

Assistant Editors
Jerome Raim
Brittany Kaplan
Caroline Berler

Production Assistants
Phoenix Paz
Laura Varela
Ariam McCrary Garcia

Patrick Carroll
Henry A.J. Ramos
Ignacio Garcia
Julie Leinning Pycior

Archival Research
Pamela A. Aguilar
Richard Hudson
Juan Camilo Agudelo
Cecilia Venable

Additional Editing
Steven Wechsler

Original Proposal by
Gary Miller

Edit Suite

Glue Editorial

Sound Mix
Heart Punch Studios

Narration Recording
Bam Studios

Caroline Corrigan

Jay Fialkov

Business Manager
Karen Carroll Bennett

Birdy Longoria Almendarez
The Corpus Caller Times
The Detroit Free Press
Hector P. Garcia Archives, Texas A & M University
Rolando P. Garza
Getty Images
Historic Films
JFK Presidential Library
The Russell Lee Collection, UT, Austin
Library Of Congress
Macdonald And Associates
Magnum Photo
NBC Universal
The New York Times
Danny Noyola Sr.
George Sanchez Papers, UT Austin
Sara Posas
The San Antonio Express
Adela Longoria Sera
Dr. Seuss Collection, UC San Diego
Streamline Films
Texas State Library
U.S. Latino & Latina WW Il Oral History Project
Susan Zamzow

Special Thanks
Grace Charles
Willie Davila
Margaret Drain
Amador Garcia
Suzanna Hsu
Tom Krennek
Olivia Parker
Tom Ramirez
Virgilio Roell
Joseph Tovares
John And Bonnie Valadez

Funding Provided By
Houston Endowment

Executive Producer For WGBH
Judith Vecchione

Executive Producer For ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

The Longoria Affair is a co-production of John J. Valadez, WGBH/Boston, and The Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), with funding provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), PBS and The Houston Endowment.

This program was produced by John J. Valadez and WGBH/Boston, who are solely responsible for its content.

© 2010 John J. Valadez and WGBH Educational Foundation. All rights reserved.

Had you heard of the Longoria case before? Do incidents like this still happen? How much should towns make reparations for events like this that happened long ago?


  • The International Documentary Association (IDA) Award
    Distinguished Documentary Achievement
  • Imagen Award
    Best Documentary
Had you heard of the Longoria case before? Do incidents like this still happen? How much should towns make reparations for events like this that happened long ago?