GUSTAVO (Gus) C. GARCIA (1915–1964)
Gustavo (Gus) C. Garcia, a Mexican-American civil-rights lawyer, was born on July 27, 1915, in Laredo, Texas to Alfredo and Maria Teresa (Arguindegui) Garcia. The family moved to San Antonio, Texas where Garcia attended Catholic and public schools and graduated as the first valedictorian from Thomas Jefferson High in 1932. He received an academic scholarship to the University of Texas, where he received a B.A. degree in 1936 and a L.L.B. in 1938.
In 1941, Garcia was drafted for service in World War II and became a first lieutenant in the United States infantry and was stationed in Japan with the judge advocate corps. After the war, he returned to San Antonio. When the United Nations was founded in 1945 in San Francisco, he participated. On February 1, 1947, he joined the office of the Mexican Consulate General in San Antonio. In April 1947, he filed suit on school authorities in Cuero, Texas to force closure of the Mexican school there. After the Mendez v.Westminster ISD case ended de jure segregation of Mexican descent children in California, Garcia filed a similar suit in Texas aided by Robert C. Eckhardt of Austin and A. L. Wirin of the Los Angeles Civil Liberties Union. Delgado v. Bastrop ISD (1948) made illegal the segregation of children of Mexican descent in Texas.
From 1939–40, Garcia served as legal advisor to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). He was elected to the San Antonio Independent School District Board of Education in April 1948 and resigned around December 1952. He helped revise the 1949 LULAC Constitution to permit non-Mexican Americans to become members. That year, he also served as lawyer to the family of Felix Longoria and helped contract negotiations for the rights of workers in the United States-Mexico Bracero Program. On May 8, 1950, Garcia and George I. Sanchez appeared before the State Board of Education to seek desegregation enforcement. Garcia was legal advisor to the American G.I. Forum from 1951 to 1952. He worked to pass a general antidiscrimination bill in Texas, served on the first board of directors of the American Council of Spanish Speaking People and the Texas Council on Human Relations, and helped the School Improvement League (the Pro Schools Defense League), the League of Loyal Americans, the Mexican Chamber of Commerce, and the Pan American Optimist Club. In 1952, the University of Texas Alba Club named him "Latin of the Year."
Around 1952, Garcia was an attorney in the case of Hernandez v. State of Texas. On January 19, 1953, he and attorney Carlos Cadena of San Antonio filed a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court to seek review of the Hernandez case, since the trial was decided by an all-white jury in Edna, Texas. When Garcia appeared before the Supreme Court on January 11, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren gave him sixteen extra minutes to present his argument. The Supreme Court voted unanimously in favor of Hernandez.