Ignacio Garcia is an author, historian, and professor of history.
He was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in 1950 and moved to the United States when he was six years old. He joined the U.S. Army and became a combat medic heading a dispensary emergency room in the Mekong Delta from 1971 to 1972, during the Vietnam War. He told the Church News, “I went into the military because like most young Mexican Americans growing up in the barrios of San Antonio, I had few possibilities for a job,” he said. It also provided educational opportunities in the form of the G.I. bill — and represented an alternative to missionary service.”
He also served as an in-country war correspondent. Garcia was the regional editor for Nuestro magazine from 1979 to 1983. Prior to this he was a sports writer for the Laredo News and a reporter for the Westside weekly of the San Antonio Express.
His parents emphasized education, and after obtaining his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville), he pursued a master’s in history. “I started a master’s in history, but my briefcase was stolen with all my files while I attended a college basketball game,” he said. “In despair and unable to retrace my research steps, I left school and went to work for a newspaper as a sports writer/editor.”
He eventually obtained his master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Arizona. He taught at the University of Arizona and Pima College. He was also a professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He joined the faculty at Brigham Young University, where he is the Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr. Professor of Western and Latino History. BYU named a scholarship in his honor: the Ignacio M. Garcia Scholarship for Indigenous and Students of Color.
Garcia has served on the executive board of the Rey L. Pratt Center for Latin American Studies and the Admissions Committee at BYU. He has also served in the Utah Humanities Council, the Tucson Energy Commission, and the Utah Judicial Commission for the Fourth District Court.
He has written several books, most notably United We Win: The Rise and Fall of La Raza Unida Party. His other works include Hector P. Garcia: In Relentless Pursuit of Justice; White But Not Equal: Mexican Americans, Jury Discrimination and the Supreme Court; When Mexicans Could Play Ball: Basketball, Race, and Identity in San Antonio, 1928-1945; and Chicano While Mormon: Activism, War, and Keeping the Faith.
He was the first person of color to serve as president of the Mormon History Association and served from 2019 to 2020.