Texas Legislature, House of Representatives, Special Investigation Committee on the Reburial of Felix Longoria:
An Inventory of Special Investigation Committee on the Reburial of Felix Longoria Reports and Routing Correspondence at the Texas State Archives, 1949
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The House of Representatives functions through committees set up under its own rules. The house maintains more standing committees than the senate. By custom the speaker appoints standing, special, and conference committees, although the house is free to designate its own method of selection. Under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1961, the committee system was expanded, and provisions were made whereby standing, special, and general investigating committees created by each body could function whether or not the legislature was in session. As of 2009, the house has 34 standing committees:
(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 11th (2001) ed.; and the Texas House of Representatives Committees web page http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/welcome.htm, accessed February 19, 2009.)
In June 1945, Private First Class Felix Longoria of Three Rivers in South Texas, was killed while on a volunteer mission on Luzon in the Philippines during World War II. His remains were not recovered until 1948 and were then shipped home for burial. In January 1949, the funeral director in Three Rivers and Longoria's widow, Beatrice Longoria, discussed the use of his chapel for her husband's services, and at that point their stories diverged. The funeral director would later claim the two agreed that discord among the Longoria family might cause a disturbance in the chapel, and so Longoria's house would be used for the service. Longoria said that the funeral director refused use of the chapel because the white population of Three Rivers would not want Mexican Americans to hold a service there. She discussed the matter with her sister, who put her in touch with Dr. Hector Garcia, founder of the American G.I. Forum, a civil rights organization for Mexican Americans. Garcia received the same rationale from the funeral director that Longoria claimed she did, and he brought the matter to the attention of U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who quickly arranged for Felix Longoria to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The burial took place on February 16, 1949.
The next day, February 17, 1949, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Simple Resolution 68, 51st Texas Legislature, Regular Session, to create an investigating committee in regard to the reburial of Felix Longoria, to establish the accuracy of reports of discrimination in the matter which had received international publicity. The five-member committee consisted of Representatives Cecil Storey, chair; Tom Cheatham; James M. Windham; Byron R. Tinsley; and Frank Oltorf. On April 7, the committee filed two reports; the majority report concluded that no discrimination had taken place, while the minority report signed only by Oltorf held that the funeral director's words and actions were discriminatory.
(Sources include: the enabling legislation, the Handbook of Texas Online article on the Felix Longoria Affair, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/FF/vef1.html, accessed February 6, 2009, and the materials themselves.)
The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the Legislature of the State of Texas (the other being the Texas Senate), which the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section 1) vests with all legislative power of the state. In February 1949, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Simple Resolution 68, 51st Texas Legislature, Regular Session, to create an investigating committee in regard to the reburial of Felix Longoria, a U.S. soldier from Texas killed in the Philippines during World War II, to establish the accuracy of reports of discrimination in the matter which had received international publicity. These records consist of the majority and minority reports of the Special Investigation Committee on the Reburial of Felix Longoria and accompanying routing correspondence, 1949. The reports are typewritten copies sent to U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson by Texas State Representative Abraham Kazen, Jr. on the day the reports were filed in the Texas House, April 7, 1949. Copies of the letter from Kazen to Johnson on that date, and a reply from Johnson four days later, accompany the reports. The majority report includes a paragraph crossed out but still readable, that did not appear in the published report in the House Journal. The records of the committee, cited in the majority report as consisting of 372 pages contained in three volumes, are not held at the State Archives, and their whereabouts are unknown.
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Special Investigation Committee on the Reburial of Felix Longoria reports and routing correspondence, House of Representatives, Texas Legislature. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1990/144
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on May 29, 1990.
Rebecca Romanchuk, February 2009
The Journal of the Texas House of Representatives, 51st Legislature, Regular Session (1949) includes the majority and minority reports of the committee, p. 1420-1424. The journal is available online at the Texas Legislative Reference Library website through its Legislative Reports database.
Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Austin, Texas
Detailed Description of the Records