Texas Council on Human Relations

By: Cynthia E. Orozco

Type: General Entry

Published: January 1, 1996

Updated: August 13, 2020

The Texas Council on Human Relations, an advisory group founded in 1950 to improve the relationship between Anglos and Hispanics in Texas, was a response to criticism that the Good Neighbor Commission had ignored domestic racial relations. Governor R. Allan Shivers established the council to make recommendations to the Good Neighbor Commission. TCHR members included Robert Everett Smith (chairman), George I. Sánchez, Gustavo C. Garcia, Bishop Mariano Garriga, Umphrey Lee, William R. White, and Henderson Coquat. Sánchez, who had helped persuade Shivers to form the council, sought to provide a focus on health, school attendance, participation in public affairs, and job opportunities for Mexican-origin Texans. He also obtained staff support from the University of Texas. Garriga sought unsuccessfully to extend the council's coverage to African Americans. The state office of the TCHR sent letters to all towns with populations of more than 2,500, seeking their cooperation in the formation of local human-relations councils of at least seven members from churches, civic groups, schools, city agencies, and newspapers to analyze local situations and coordinate agency work. By June 1950 local councils had been established in Beeville, Big Spring, Fort Worth, Granger, Marlin, Mineral Wells, Pittsburg, Port Arthur, Texas City, and Victoria, and by October twenty-six councils had been formed. The state office mailed the Texas Board of Education's 1950 statement on the illegality of segregating Mexican-origin children, with "suggestions for attacking ethnic discrimination" provided by University of Texas professor Lyle Saunders. Most mayors did not respond to the request for local action, however, and the attempt to institute local councils was largely unsuccessful. Mayor Oscar F. Holcombe of Houston believed that since the city had not had "any trouble" in many months, the city was "free of race minority problems." At the suggestion of Sánchez, the Good Neighbor Commission and TCHR cosponsored a statewide conference with the League of United Latin American Citizens and the American G.I. Forum of Texas in Fort Worth. Conferences on the problems of Mexican Americans were rare at the time; it was the first such event that the GNC had organized. In July 1951 TCHR sponsored the Texas Conference of Community Leaders, at which such topics as "How a mayor is taking action in favor of better relations in local cafes" were discussed. Invitations were sent to mayors, county judges, chambers of commerce, and civic groups in 110 counties with substantial Hispanic populations. By mid-1952 Ed Idar, Jr., state chairman of the G.I. Forum, wrote Shivers that the council was ineffective. Sánchez and Garcia resigned after criticism from the forum. The TCHR thereafter met infrequently, had no formal plan for staffing or fund-raising, and was hindered by internal dissension until it fell apart.

Good Neighbor Commission Collection, Texas State Library, Austin. Ricardo Romo, "George I. Sánchez and the Civil Rights Movement: 1940–1960," La Raza Law Journal 1 (Fall 1986).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Cynthia E. Orozco, “Texas Council on Human Relations,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-council-on-human-relations.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1996
August 13, 2020