On July 19, 2013 Senate Resolution No. 70 was signed declaring July 27, 2013 as Gus Garcia Day in honor of the late Gustavo "Gus" C. Garcia, an attorney who played a vital role in advancing Tejano civil rights. The 1st Annual Gus Garcia Day celebration was held in Houston, Texas where Senator Sylvia Garcia presented the state-wide proclamation. This event was hosted by the Librotraficantes, a Houston-based organization created to protest the Arizona legislature’s banning of a Mexican-American studies curriculum in Tucson. In addition to the presentation of the proclamation, the Librotraficantes held a book drive for the Gus Garcia Underground Library at Raul Yzaguirre School for Success.
This proclamation is housed within MSS 0352 Mexican American Small Collections.
Gustavo “Gus” C. Garcia (1915-1964) was a civil-rights lawyer recognized for his legal efforts to improve education and working conditions for Mexican Americans. While his legal practice was based in San Antonio, Texas, he frequently worked with lawyers in Houston including John J. Herrera, and his efforts had a profound impact on civil rights in Texas. Below are a few of his major contributions.
1948: Delgado v. Bastrop ISD made the segregation of children of Mexican descent in Texas illegal.
1949: In the Felix Longoria Affair Garcia served as lawyer to the Longoria family, who had been denied the right to use the all-white chapel for the burial of Felix Longoria, a World War II veteran.
1950: Garcia and George I. Sanchez appeared before the Texas State Board of Education to seek desegregation enforcement.
1952-1954: In Pete Hernandez v. State of Texas Garcia served as attorney in this case in which the trial was decided by an all-white jury. Garcia sought a review of the trial and, while the state admitted that no person with a Spanish surname had served on any type of jury for 25 years, the State of Texas argued that this absence only indicated coincidence and nothing more. The State contended that the Fourteenth Amendment covered only whites and Blacks, and that Mexican Americans are white. The case was taken before the Supreme Court and on January 11, 1954 Chief Justice Earl Warren gave him sixteen extra minutes to present his argument, a first in the history of Supreme Court cases.
The Supreme Court voted unanimously in favor of Hernandez. This case was decided within ten days of the Brown v. Board of Education decision and set a vital precedent for civil rights. With Garcia during this trial were James De Anda and Chris Alderete of the American G. I. Forum and Carlos Cadena and John J. Herrera of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
If you would like to donate materials related to Gus C. Garcia or any of our related collections please call 832-393-1662.
Speeches by Gus C. Garcia found in HMRC’s John J. Herrera Collection
Text of the speech delivered by Gus C. Garcia before the Education Session of Third National Conference of the United States National Commission for UNESCO at New York on January 29, 1952 on education, especially for minorities in the United States.
- Text of speech delivered by Gus C. Garcia, Member, San Antonio Board of Education, at Laredo, Texas on January 15, 1952, titled, "Signs of our times." Garcia speaks of the general problems which are facing the nation today.
For more Gus Garcia archival material visit the Portal to Texas History and browse the MSS 0160 John J. Herrera Collection.
Audio clips featuring Gus C. Garcia
The above link includes the following clips:
- January 28, 1954 Gus C. Garcia in San Antonio at Alexis Studio for KLVL Radio Morales in Houston.
- April 29, 1958 Radio Program/ Political Program featuring attorneys Gus C. Garcia and John J. Herrera.
- June 6, 1964 LULAC
The following related collections contain archival material from a Hispanic lawyer and a judge in Houston who made significant contributions in the struggle for equality.
MSS 0160 John J. Herrera Collection