By the time her husband began pushing the idea of greater participation by Mexican Americans in her small South Texas town, Maria Ramirez Garcia had developed a strong and broad network of contacts who could support the effort.
Garcia was born July 2, 1940, in Taft, Texas, 136 miles southeast of San Antonio. She and her sisters worked in a segregated movie theater while her mother, father and five older brothers were migrant workers in the cotton fields.
Maria married Miguel Garcia on Aug. 8, 1969. The couple would have two sons, Joseph and Michael. Miguel Garcia got involved in politics in Taft after returning from Vietnam, where he had served in the Marines. One of the first things he did was to establish a Veterans of Foreign Wars center in Taft.
Miguel Garcia was the lead plaintiff in the 1985 Garcia v. The City of Taft lawsuit, which ultimately re-established wards in Taft to improve representation of the Mexican-American and African-American communities after a federal court issued its final decision in 1989.
Maria Garcia was part of The Concerned Citizens of Taft, a group that supported her husband's challenge of the city’s gerrymandered city boundaries. She was the only woman involved with the group’s meetings, advocacy and support.
The year before the case went to court, Miguel was elected to the Taft school board. Miguel served on the school board for only three months because he had to fly to Seattle to receive a bone marrow transplant. He died on Aug. 29, 1985.
Garcia said that she was proud to be involved with the case against the city.
“It tells me that there is hope and a chance for everybody to really achieve what they want to do,” she said.