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Museum exhibit celebrates first Hispanic mayor

Garden City reached a unique milestone 50 years ago, on April 11 of 1973, when the community’s first Hispanic mayor was elected, and the Finney County Historical Museum has just opened a new exhibit telling the story of Mayor D.C. Garcia.

Entitled “Making a Difference,” the display is located in the museum’s Front Door Gallery, where exhibits change four to six times each year.  It is comprised of nearly 10 large-format photographic images, as well as a small collection of artifacts loaned from the Garcia family and others.

Visitors who view the exhibit will see a 1962 aerial image of the mail delivery route that Garcia walked daily for nearly three decades as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, a complete 1970s postal uniform, his mayoral gavel, a Bible he received during his tenure as Garden City’s top elected leader and a series of nearly 10 large-format photographs spanning more than 25 years.

The exhibit incorporates a few balloting statistics and a chronology of his election to the City Commission of Garden City in 1971 too, along with his tenure as “the Working Man’s Mayor” in 1973-74.  There is also information about the efforts of Garcia and his wife, Irene, to promote equal opportunity in employment, housing and education, and to improve local ethnic relations and eliminate discrimination.

In addition, the display focuses on Garcia’s belief in the value of schooling, based on his personal struggles with completing an education, as the son of laboring immigrant parents, and the fact that his wife became the first Hispanic member of the board of education in Garden City.  In addition, there is a full-size reproduction of a Garden City Telegram feature from Jan. 1 of 2000, naming Garcia as one of the top 10 local residents of the millennium.

Admission is free and viewing hours are 1-5 p.m. daily. The Front Door Gallery is located just inside the museum’s main entrance at 403 S. Fourth Street in Finnup Park, adjacent to the pedestrian arches at Lee Richardson Zoo. All other museum displays are accessible simultaneously and the gift shop is open the same hours.  Front Door Gallery exhibits are supported by the Steve Stone Memorial Fund.

The display is scheduled to remain in place approximately two months.  It follows an exhibit marking the Finney County Historical Society’s own 75th anniversary and is the second of five installations planned during 2023.