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Henry B. González: 1916-2000: Congressman

"henry B."

On the west side of San Antonio, many businesses and restaurants still proudly display pictures of González, known to most simply as "Henry B." To those who supported him, González was a man of integrity, honor, courage, and strength, who cared for the people he represented. He battled and broke down racial barriers, allowing other Hispanics to follow a path made easier by González. Andy Hernandez, a political theorist from St. Mary's University, told the Austin Chronicle, "He was one of the very first extraordinary leaders of the Mexican-American generation who battled segregation. He himself broke through all the barriers."

Called a "crackpot" and "unbalanced" by his detractors for his numerous tirades against real and imaginary enemies, González, whether loved or despised, demanded respect. His emotional disposition made headlines twice during his tenure. In 1963 in the House chambers, Texas Republican Ed Foreman called González a "pinko," and González responded by punching Foreman. Twenty-three years later, at the age of seventy, González was eating breakfast at his favorite San Antonio restaurant, when a customer referred to him as a communist. Again, the former Golden Gloves champion floored his detractor with his fist. According to Jan Jarboe Russell of Texas Monthly, who regularly met with González for breakfast, "He lived life as one long, tumultuous filibuster and was suited for the job: He had an ego that demanded life-or-death combat, the heart of a philosopher, and the bladder of an elephant." Russell added, "Like everyone in San Antonio, I both feared and admired Henry B. After all, he was regarded as only slightly less powerful than God and just as easy to offend." As González declared in his filibuster stand on the floor of the Texas Senate in 1957, "I appeal to the future for my vindication."



Contemporary Heroes and Heroines, Book IV, Gale, 2000.

Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale, 1996.


The Austin Chronicle, December 8, 2000.

Financial World, December 27, 1988.

National Review, April 29, 1988.

The New Republic, April 11, 1994.

Texas Monthly, December 1999; January 2001.

Time, December 11, 2000.


Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995, http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/congress/gonzález.html

Politico, www.politicomagazine.com/henryb112900.html (November 29, 2000).

—Kari Bethel

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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