MORIN, RAUL RALPH
MORIN, RAUL RALPH (1913–1967). Raul Ralph Morin, born in Lockhart, Texas, on July 26, 1913, was a decorated veteran, author, and civil rights activist. He was the son of Evaristo Morin and Petra Rosales. Census records indicate that he grew up in Lockhart, but at some point he attended San Antonio Trade School in San Antonio. His father died when he was only three, and his mother remarried. Morin had an appreciation for drawing in his early years, which led his mother to secure a position for him with a sign painter. Hard times prompted him to leave his home in Texas and work in Arizona for a federal employment program, the Civilian Conservation Corps. Morin’s laboring family moved to various places in search of improved employment opportunities. He eventually joined his brother in Santa Barbara, California, but by the late 1930s Morín moved to the south side of Los Angeles and set up his own sign shop, Olvera Sign Company. On November 27, 1938, he married Ramona Tijerina. The 1940 federal census recorded that Morin, his wife, and their infant daughter Olivia lived in the household of his father-in-law in the Belvedere neighborhood of Los Angeles. Morin and his wife eventually were the parents of five daughters and one son.
During World War II Morín enlisted into the United States Army on March 20, 1944, and eventually served with the Seventy-ninth Infantry Division. He was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and sent home to recover. For his service, he received the Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, and the U. S. Army Infantry Badge. While recovering, Morín contemplated the contributions of Mexican Americans in the war and made up his mind to write a book on their experiences, especially their bravery in combat. He began to collect stories of veterans, and, while convalescing at DeWitt General Hospital in Auburn, California, he also passed the time by drawing caricatures of fellow patients. His plans, however, had to wait as he returned home to his family and sign shop business. He also drew cartoons and wrote articles for a local newspaper called The Sports Page.
Morin’s return was marked by a renewed sense of awareness of the minority status of Mexican Americans and his social responsibility to act on their behalf. He became a community leader in East Los Angeles and helped establish Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts there. His involvement in community affairs also included such activities as helping to form a basketball league for young men. In 1956 Morin returned to Texas to visit relatives, and he met with Hector Garcia in Corpus Christi to discuss chartering an American G. I. Forum chapter in California. Consequently, Morin established the first American G. I. Forum chapter in Los Angeles and helped further the group’s expansion throughout California. That same year, Morin, a Democrat, also recruited members for the California Democratic Council Club. He was an active member in numerous community, civil rights, and business groups in the Los Angeles area and spearheaded efforts to improve the economic and social conditions of Mexican Americans.
In 1960 Morin managed a successful campaign for Leopoldo Sanchez, East Los Angeles’s first elected municipal court judge. Morin also managed the political campaign of Congressman George Brown in 1962.
Raul Morín maintained his goal of writing a book on Mexican American soldiers during World War II and over time gathered stories, new clippings, personal notes, and other items for his project. He had difficulties convincing publishers to print his manuscript in the 1950s until Borden Publishers agree to produce the book in 1963. The American G. I. Forum agreed to adopt the project, and advance orders paid for the first printing. Although Morín had become a well-known public figure in the Mexican American civil rights movement, he achieved greater popularity with his war narrative, Among the Valiant: Mexican-Americans in WWII and Korea. Not unlike the previously published war diary of José de la Luz Sáenz, Los México Americanos y la Gran Guerra, Morin’s book, which included an introduction by Lyndon B. Johnson, was dedicated to the Mexican American soldiers, especially the ones who had earned important recognitions like the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star. Morín was mindful of all the soldiers who had served but also recognized that Mexican Americans were not being acknowledged by American society. He wrote: “In writing solely of Mexican and Spanish Americans, it is not to slight any other Americans nor to imply that the Mexican-Americans won the war. We want to pay tribute to all American fighting men, be they white, red, black, yellow or brown. We feel just as proud of the Colin Kellys, the Dorrie Millers and the Sadio Munemoris as we are of the Martinez’, Garcias’ and Rodriguez’.”
He made a failed bid for the California State Senate in 1966. At the age of fifty-three, Raul Ralph Morín died on May 4, 1967, in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles city council established the Raul Morin Memorial Square in East Los Angeles in 1968 in his honor.
Richard Griswold del Castillo, ed., World War II and Mexican American Civil Rights (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008). “…In Memory of Raul Morín, patriot” (http://www.raulmorin.com/community_org.html), accessed February 10, 2019. Ben V. Olguín, “Sangre Mexicana/Corazón Americano: Identity, Ambiguity, and Critique in Mexican-American War Narratives,” American Literary History 14 (Spring 2002). F. Arturo Rosales, Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2006). Emilio Zamora, ed., The World War I Diary of José de la Luz Sáenz, Emilio Zamora, with Ben Maya, trans. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2014).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Emilio Zamora and Hector Jacobo, "MORIN, RAUL RALPH ," accessed February 23, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmobf.
Uploaded on February 12, 2019. Modified on January 7, 2020. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.