Henry B. Gonzalez - Hemisfair '68 and the Expansion of the 70s
"HemisFair '68," held in San Antonio from April 6 through October 6, 1968, was the first officially designated international exposition in the southwestern United States. Gonzalez was an early proponent and successfully obtained federal support for the event. The fair was held in conjunction with the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio. The theme of the fair was "The Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas." More than thirty nations hosted pavilions at the fair. The fair was built on a ninety-six-acre site on the southeastern edge of downtown San Antonio. The project was partially developed with federal urban renewal funds and other public and private contributions. Decades after the fair concluded, Hemisfair Park remains an integral part of San Antonio's downtown landscape.
In the 1970s Gonzalez continued with his crusades. He was instrumental in establishing a congressional committee to
investigate the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. He also urged an investigation of the murder of Federal Judge John W. Wood in San Antonio. Gonzalez focused his attention primarily on domestic issues, specifically on those that would provide a safer, more stable social environment. As a member of the House Small Business Committee, Gonzalez played a key role in salvaging the Robinson-Patman Act, which some consider to be the "Magna Carta" of small business. During this same time, Gonzalez opposed nuclear power and introduced legislation to phase out existing nuclear facilities. He also contributed to the modification of the Safe Drinking Water Act to mandate federal protection of urban aquifers and groundwater resources.
From 1971 to 1981, Gonzalez chaired the Banking Committee's Subcommittee on International Development, Institutions, and Finance. During this time he sponsored an amendment to a number of international banking bills, most notably, the "Gonzalez amendment." The legislation called for protection
for U.S. citizens from expropriation by countries that receive loans from international development institutions to which the United States contributes. In 1981 Gonzalez became the chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development, where he used his experience in public housing to bring about reform programs, increasing opportunities for families to get housing assistance. He also battled to improve public housing and establish legislation that would provide more guidance to families in danger of losing their homes.
Cover of HemisFeria 1968 newletter featuring President Johnson signing HemisFair '68 legislation, March 1966. Gonzalez (Henry B.) Papers, CAH; E-HBG-0038.