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Henry B. González: 1916-2000: Congressman

Filibustered On Segregation Legislation

González became an early champion of the civil rights movement and a hero in the eyes of many Mexican Americans. He stood up against the passage of ten bills that were written to circumvent the federal mandate issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, which called for the desegregation of all public schools. He made national headlines in 1957 when he spearheaded the longest filibuster in the history of the Texas legislature, undertaken in an effort to prevent passage of the segregation bills. The bills included measures that would allow parents who disagreed with desegregation to withdraw their children from school.

The filibuster was initiated by Senator Abraham "Chick" Kazen of Laredo, who spoke for twelve hours before yielding the floor to González after midnight. González, decked out in a light-blue suit, white shoes, and matching yellow tie and handkerchief, spoke for a night, a day, and into the second night, a total of twenty-two hours and two minutes, without stopping for a break. According to Texas Monthly, González began his marathon speech by stating, "I seek to register the plaintive cry, the hurt feelings, the silent, the dumb protest of the inarticulate." To answer the bills' proponents, who argued that the legislation was a necessity, González raged, "Necessity is the creed of slaves and the argument of tyrants!" Finally at 1:45 a.m. into his second night on the floor, opponents agreed to withdraw four of the ten bills if Gonzales would just sit down and stop talking. Subsequently nine of the ten bills were withdrawn or declared unconstitutional.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: E(mily) R. Frank (1967-) Biography - Personal to Martha Graham (1893–1991) BiographyHenry B. González: 1916-2000: Congressman Biography - Worked To Improve The West Side, Entered Public Office, Filibustered On Segregation Legislation, Became A U.s. Representative In Congress