GUSTAVO C. GARCIA (1915–1964)
Gustavo (Gus) C.Garcia, a Mexican-American civil-rights lawyer, was born on July 27, 1915, in Laredo to Alfredo and Maria Teresa (Arguindegui) Garcia. The family moved to San Antonio, where Garcia attended Catholic and public schools and graduated asthe first valedictorianfrom Thomas Jefferson High in 1932. He received an academic scholarship to theUniversity of Texas, where he received a B.A.degree in 1936 and an LL.B. in 1938.
In 1941 Garcia was drafted for service in World War II and became a first lieutenant in the United States infantryand was stationed in Japan with the judge advocate corps. After the war hereturned to San Antonio. When the United Nations was founded in 1945 inSanFrancisco he participated. On February 1, 1947, he joined the office of the MexicanConsulate General in San Antonio. In April 1947 he filed suit on school authoritiesin Cuero to force closure of the Mexican school there. After the Mendez v.Westminster ISD case ended de jure segregation of Mexican-descentchildren in California, Garcia filed a similar suit in Texas, aided by RobertC. 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 ofMexican descent in Texas.
In 1939–40 Garcia served aslegal advisor to the League of United Latin American Citizens(LULAC). He was elected to the San Antonio Independent School DistrictBoard of Education in April 1948and resigned around December 1952. He helpedrevise the 1949 LULAC Constitution to permit non-Mexican Americans to becomemembers. That year he also served as lawyer to the family of Felix Longoria andhelped contract negotiations for the rights of workers in the UnitedStates-Mexico Bracero Program. On May 8, 1950, Garcia and George I. Sanchez appeared before the StateBoard of Education to seek desegregation enforcement. Garcia was legal advisorto the American G.I. Forum from 1951 to 1952. He worked to pass a generalantidiscrimination bill in Texas, served on the first board of directors of theAmerican Council of Spanish Speaking People and the Texas Council on HumanRelations, and helped the School Improvement League(the Pro Schools DefenceLeague), the League of Loyal Americans, theMexican Chamber of Commerce, and the Pan American Optimist Club. In 1952 theUniversity of Texas Alba Club named him "Latin of the Year."
Around 1952Garcia was an attorney in the case ofHernandez v. State of Texas. On January 19, 1953, he and attorney CarlosCadena of San Antonio filed a writ of certiorari with the United States SupremeCourt to seek review of the Hernandez case, since the trial was decided by an all-whitejury in Edna. When Garcia appeared before the Supreme Court on January 11,1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren gave him sixteen extra minutes to present hisargument. The Supreme Court voted unanimously in favor of Hernandez.