"The Sharpest legal mind there ever was"

gus garcia memorial

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About Gus

Gus was born in Laredo Texas in June 15, 1915, moved to San Antonio at an early age and made San Antonio his home until his death at the Old Farmers Market now El Mercado.

Gus was and is the most beloved and known Mexican American lawyer and civil rights activist of the twentieth century.  During his time in San Antonio Gus was the most prolific civil rights attorney.  He filed and won two of the most important cases that changed the status quo that existed and allowed for Mexican American citizens to be legally discriminated against in Texas. In 1948 Gus filed and won the Delgado v Bastrop ISD.  This landmark case started the end of education segregation against Mexican American children in Texas. In the 1940s too many Mexican Americans in Texas attended segregated schools. Mexican Americans in Texas were kept out of restaurants, theaters, and public swimming pools. There were signs all over that said, “No Mexicans allowed”.  Few Mexican Americans served on juries in Texas. 

In 1954 Gus was lead lawyer in Hernandez v Texas. For the first time in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court an all Mexican American legal team argued a case before them.  Gus, along with other Mexican American attorneys, Carlos Cadena, James DeAnda and Johnny Herrera along with major support from attorney Chris Alderete and former San Antonio mayor and U.S. congressman Maury Maverick argued the case for defendant Pete Hernandez.”  


Gus argued that Mexican Americans and all Latinos in Texas were being treated as a class apart. In his argument before the U. S. Supreme, Gus gave his most famous oratory presentation that so moved the justices and Chief justice Earl Warren, who reportedly commented: “Counselor, I am so impressed with your eloquence and your preparation, that I will ask you to disregard the light and continue with your presentation” and allowed Gus an extra 16 minutes to conclude his presentation: first time allowed in the history of the U. S. Supreme Court. The justices agreed unanimously and ruled in Hernandez favor.  This case gave Mexican Americans and all Latinos protection under the 14th amendment.        


Gus was so gifted that he left a legacy that is unimaginable for any one man to accomplish in one lifetime. 


At age 17 in 1932, Gus was Thomas Jefferson high school valedictorian in a mostly all Anglo student body. Another Mexican American at Jefferson was Henry B Gonzalez.


As a student at the University of Texas in 1936-1938 Gus was the debate team captain that tied Harvard and John F Kennedy in a debate. 


While a student at the University of Texas, Gus became Friends with Lady Bird Johnson, later wife of president Lyndon B. Johnson and John Connally, later governor of Texas and president John F Kennedy.


University of Texas Graduate with honors 1936.


Gus was an assistant attorney for Bexar County in 1938 and the City of San Antonio in 1941.


Gus was legal advisor to LULAC in 1939-40 and rewrote the LULAC constitution to allow non-citizens to join.


U.S. Army 1941-1946   

In April 1947 Gus filed suit against Cuero ISD in Cuero Texas to force closure of the Mexican school.


In 1948 President Harry S Truman asked Gus to participate in the founding of the United Nations, where he helped write their constitution


In 1948 Gus wrote the constitution for the American G.I. Forum


Gus filed and won Delgado v Bastrop 1948. Made segregation of Mexican Americans illegal.


Gus was the first Mexican American elected to the San Antonio ISD. 


Gus was the lawyer for Felix Longoria 1949, in what is known as the Felix Longoria Affair for discrimination of Mexican American soldiers in Tree Rivers, Texas. 


Gus Helped in contract negotiations in the Bracero Program 1949. Helped Mexican farm workers to legally work in the U.S. 


In May 8, 1950 Gus Garcia appeared before the state board of education to seek desegregation enforcement.  Too many school districts in Texas were not complying with Delgado v Texas. 


Gus Garcia spoke at the Education Session of the 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.


In 1952, the University of Texas Alba Club named Gus “Latin of the Year.


Lead lawyer in Hernandez v Texas 1954. Gave not only Mexican Americans but also all Latinos protection under the 14th amendment as a class apart.

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