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Government/Politics

Henry B. Gonzalez Remembered On 100th Anniversary Of His Birth

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Family members, elected officials, and the community are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Henry B. Gonzalez’s birth today. In tributes, some consider Congressman Gonzalez a local and national hero.  

Those celebrating Congressman Gonzalez’s life say they remember him both for his contributions to his constituents and for his feisty personality. Gonzalez served for over fifty years in public office. He served locally in City Council and the State Senate and for almost forty years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Charles Gonzalez is the senior Gonzalez’s son, and is also a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I think, locally, people remember Hemisphere, which truly transformed this city,” Gonzalez says. “ Brooks Army Medical Center, as we used to refer to it, making sure it was a 450 bed capacity hospital. Beyond that—even legislation on the national level.  Believe it or not, he was there for the Civil Rights Act, the Voter’s Rights Act, Medicare, Housing Reform, Banking Reform, Healthcare Reform. Things that touched the lives of everyone in the United States.”

Shirley Gonzales, of no relation, is Councilmember for District 5. She says she considers Henry B. Gonzales a great icon of public service.

“It’s really important that his legacy lives on. It’s important that we remember the sacrifices that were made from our first Latino elected officials,” she says.  “It really was so life-changing, so significant the changes that he made at the time that he did—how difficult it was to even become elected is something we often forget in this day and age.”

Teresa Van Hoy is an associate professor of History at St. Mary’s University. To celebrate the School of Law’s centennial, the school’s producing a series of documentary films and oral histories about their alumni. The first film will be about Gonzalez.

“Who could ask for a better figure, more colorful, and powerful figure than Henry B. Gonzalez to start with. And especially because we are partnering with Honorable Charlie Gonzalez, his son, so it becomes a multi-layered project,” Van Hoy says.

Congressman Gonzalez  will be remembered again on his 101st birthday. The Law School already has chosen May 3rd, 2017 for the release of the film’s premiere.