Answered By: Celita Ávila
Last Updated: Nov 18, 2015     Views: 26

John J. Herrera (1910 - 1986), with Gustavo C. Garcia, won two landmark civil rights cases including the first Hispanic civil-rights case argued before the United States Supreme Court.

The first case, Delgado vs. Bastrop Independent School District (1948) declared the school segregation of Hispanics illegal. The second case, Pete Hernandez vs. Texas (1954) applied the Fourteenth Amendment to Hispanics. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the practice of systematically excluding Hispanics from juries. Herrera's efforts resulted in the practice of naming World War II Liberty ships for Latin American heroes.

This lawyer and civil-rights leader, son of Juan José Herrera, a descendant of the Canary Islanders, and Antonia Jiménez, was born on April 12, 1910, in Cravens, Louisiana, where his father, a former San Antonio policeman, was sheriff. His great-great-grandfather was José Francisco Ruiz, and his great-grandfather was Blas Herrera, Texas army scout during the Texas Revolution. In 1934 Herrera graduated from Sam Houston High School in Houston, where his speech teacher was Lyndon B. Johnson. While working as a laborer and taxi driver, he received an LL.B. at South Texas Law School in 1940 and passed the bar in 1943.

To learn more about this unsung hero and hundreds of other historic Texans just click on the Handbook of Texas Online.

The New Handbook of Texas is a six-volume multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, culture, and geography that provided a ready reference source for almost any historical question relating to Texas. First published as a two-volume set in 1952 and deemed by Walter Prescott Webb “the product of the combined literary genius and scholarly ability of the people of Texas,” the Handbook was revised and updated in a supplement in 1976, and then completely revised in 1996. This new edition, which is no longer in print, serves as the primary reference work on Texas history and provides a platform for further development of historical resources. The 23,640 articles contained in The New Handbook of Texas represent the efforts of more than 3,000 individuals working over a 14-year period