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Texas Originals

Democratic Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez

He’s a a long-time congressman and civil rights pioneer.



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Gonzalez during his acceptance speech
Texas Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez receives the 1994 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

Henry B. González
May 3, 1916–November 28, 2000


Longtime congressman and civil rights pioneer Henry B. González—affectionately known by his constituents as "Henry B."—was born in San Antonio in 1916.

González's political career began in the fifties, when he served on the San Antonio City Council and, later, in the Texas Senate. He made his name by speaking out against segregation and fighting rate hikes by public utilities. In 1957, he and fellow Senator Abraham Kazen stopped a collection of pro-segregation bills with a thirty-six-hour filibuster—the longest ever in the Texas Senate.

Lady Bird Johnson is holding a wreath that has a ribbon tied upon it. Gonzalez is standing to the right of a man holding a shovel.

In 1961, González became the first Mexican American to represent Texas in Congress. There, the former boxer maintained his gruff, pugnacious style, and stubborn commitment to economic justice and equality for all Americans.

An expert on the nation's banking system, González oversaw the 1989 savings and loan bailout, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He also led efforts to overhaul public housing and increase transparency at the Federal Reserve. In principle González believed in working within the system to effect change, but in practice he pulled no punches.

González was reelected eighteen times and became the longest-serving Hispanic member of Congress. When he retired in 1999, Congressman Jim Leach of Iowa remarked that González "never had a conflict of interest… His only special interest was his constituents. He never let them down."

Henry B. González served 37 years in the House, making him the longest-serving Hispanic Member in Congress.

For more about Henry B. González

The Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin holds the Henry B. Gonzalez Collection, which includes over 500 linear feet of correspondence, committee records, campaign files, schedules, personal schedules, appointments, legislative files, photographs, video and audiotapes, memorabilia, and artifacts. This extensive collection includes records from Gonzalez’s years of public service with San Antonio City Council, the Texas State Senate, and the U.S. Congress. The Briscoe Center offers a virtual exhibition based on materials from this collection.

The Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio.

Selected Bibliography

Auerbach, Robert D. Deception and Abuse at the Fed; Henry B. González Battles Alan Greenspan's Bank. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008.

Flynn, Jean. Henry B. González: Rebel With a Cause. Austin: Eakin Press, 2004.

Hamill, Peter. “Henry B. González.” In Profiles in Courage for Our Time, edited by Caroline Kennedy. New York: Hyperion, 2002.

"Henry B. González, 1916–2000." In Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822–2012, edited by Matthew A. Wasniewski, Albin Kowalewski, Laura Turner O’Hara, and Terrance Rucker, 400–409. Washington, DC : U.S. Government Printing Office, 2013.

Haugen, Brenda. Henry B. González: Congressman of the People. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2006.

Kohout, Martin Donell. “González, Henry Barbosa.” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed online 22 November 2015.

Marquis, Christopher. “Henry González, 84; Served 37 Years in House.” New York Times, November 29, 2000. Accessed online 22 November 2015.

Pycior, Julie Leininger. “Henry B. González.” In Profiles in Power: Twentieth-Century Texans in Washington, edited by Kenneth E. Hendrickson, Michael L. Collins, and Patrick Cox. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993.

Russell, Jan Jarboe. "Henry B. González." Texas Monthly, January 2001. Accessed online 22 November 2015.

Ralph Nader Congress Project. Citizens Look at Congress: Henry B. González, Democratic Representative from Texas. Washington, DC: Grossman Publishers, 1972.