Gustavo “Gus” Garcia


To say that Gus was a trailblazer would be an understatement comparable to saying that people like the Cowboys in North Texas.

Born on July 27, 1915, in Laredo, Texas, to Alfredo and Teresa Garcia at a time when there were no civil rights laws. No special treatment for poor families, No Social Security, No Head Start program, or E.S.L. to help students with language barriers. Back then, “If you were White, you were right,” all others to the back. Luckily for Gus, he was a light-complected Mexican American which most of us know sure doesn’t hurt. In fact, I can remember adults saying with some pride, “He/She can pass for White” when introducing or meeting new family addition.

  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that is why Gus succeeded in doing some things within the legal system. What he did was nothing short of a miracle back then. Pero, no one can argue that looking White helped. The family moved to San Antonio, Gus attended public and Catholic schools. After graduating from Thomas Jefferson in 1932 with top honors, he went to the University of Texas. There he earned a B.A. Degree and an L.L.B. in 1938.

  Gus, like most young Americans was drafted into the armed services in 1941 and he served as a first lieutenant with the judge advocate corps in Japan. Once World War 2 ended, Gus returned to San Antonio and joined the office of the Mexican Consulate General in the city. From there, Gus went on to use his law degree to fight for equality for the Mexican American community. When the Mendez V. Westminster case ended segregation for children in California, he filed to do the same in Texas. Which came in the form of Delgado V. Bastrop I.S.D., which made it illegal to segregate children of Mexican descent. Gus had already forced the closure of the Mexican school in Cuero Texas which happened before California’s’ Mendez v Westminster case.

  Gus served as legal adviser to both LULAC and the American G.I. Forum, as well as on the San Antonio I.S.D. District Board of Education in 1948. He also served as a lawyer to Felix Longoria’s family when his hometown cemetery refused his burial after he was killed in service to our country. As a side note which for most people would be their highlight, he once debated future U.S. President John F. Kennedy as U.T. Debate Captain. Also on Gus’ debate team was future Texas Governor John Connally Although the match was declared a tie only in Harvard’s history according to many John F. Kennedy felt if Gus had not been Mexican American he and U.T. would have declared the winner.  His service to the Mexican American community and to the betterment of this country has very few equals.

  Perhaps his crowning achievement as an attorney is the Hernandez v State of Texas in 1954. Pete Hernandez was convicted of murder by an all-White Jury in Edna, Texas. This led Gus and Carlos Cadena to file a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme court to review the case. This historic case was argued on January 11, 1954, and finally decided on May 13, 1954. The court agreed that excluding Mexican Americans from juries was a denial of equal protection under the 14th amendment. This decision led to many other discrimination cases being filed and citing this case as a reference.

  Unfortunately, Gus Garcia died on June 3,1964 at the young age of 48 in his beloved San Antonio. The narrative that has been out there is that he died penniless and alone after years of battling alcoholism. And while that narrative has persisted it is not entirely accurate. In fact, “Remembering Gus Garcia” documentary Co-Producer Efrain Gutierrez challenges at least part of that story. Their new documentary hopes to set the record straight. As well as perhaps reintroducing many in our community to a true American hero that we all should be proud of. We owe Gus Garcia not only a debt of gratitude for his work on civil rights. But also, an apology for not recognizing his proper place in history. The Remembering Gus Garcia documentary serves to accomplish both. In addition, monies raised through the film screening will go to erecting a statue of Mr. Garcia at San Antonio’s’ El Mercado. Which will further educate people about his contributions.  

Fort Worth Screening of (Remembering Gus Garcia) Sponsored by Amigos n Progress a 501C3 non-profit and LULAC Council 4568

(Hola Texas is the media sponsor for the Fort Worth screening of “Remembering Gus Garcia” Documentary coming October 22nd) Visit for upcoming details)


One Response

  1. Efrain Gutierreez is behind this money making event for his own personal
    monetary gain. Efrain and his short compadre are masters at raising money for all
    types of causes — and fail to provide the service promised. For supposed
    non profit event. El TALLER run by Gutierrez is a 501 c 3 group. with little to show or even attract patrons for cancelled events. I once sat in a meeting as
    Gutierrez and his short compadre hustle the late Great Tino Duran, former owner and publisher of LA PRENSA DE SAN ANTONIO.
    Some one should call in an audit to Gutierrez money making shaker, then shut him down, Please don’t contribute to this non – fundraiser. event.

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