Hispanic Heritage Month: Lali Garcia
Rafaela “Lali” Garcia was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on Oct. 24, 1927. Growing up, she remembers facing discrimination in public places, including schools and movie theaters. Her father died when she was 12; both her father and stepfather were involved in local politics.
Lali was a young wife when the 1951 flood displaced her family. She never forgot the support they received from the Guadalupe Centers, and she continued to give back in thanks her whole life. She and her husband, Jesse, decided to settle on the Missouri side of the state line in the Westside neighborhood. Lali organized the Westside Democratic Club and, later, the La Raza political club. The club helped elect Latinos to city, county and state office. For more than 50 years, Lali worked the precincts on Election Day, helping people exercise their right to vote.
Lali was honored with many awards and recognitions, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Humanitarian of the Year award, the Pat Rios award and the MANA Community Service award. She made life better for Latinos in Kansas City up until her death in 2021.