Truth About the Official 1949 Investigations

Five investigations into the incident were conducted. Three exonerated Mr. Kennedy; two others each had division between exoneration and dissent.

·         Commissioners or Legislators: The film alludes erroneously to only one investigation and says “the commissioners” could not agree. The “commissioners” were State Legislators assigned to a committee to perform an investigation into the affair.

 

1.    The Army Graves Department report by Shag Floore clearly exonerates Mr. Kennedy and Three Rivers. Contrary to claims that Mr. Floore only visited with Three Rivers’ ‘whites,’ he also visited with Dr. Garcia and other Hispanics. Johnson was raging mad when he read this report.

 

2.    The Texas Funeral Association decided not to remove Mr. Kennedy’s license based on the investigation by Mr. Peter Dunne, one of their directors. Mr. Kennedy continued serving both Anglos and Hispanics in his county until his health failed.

 

3.    The San Antonio American Legion was so outraged after their investigation that they sent a demand for apology to Johnson and Garcia.

 

4.    The Good Neighbor Commission had a draw. Mr. Bob Smith, Chairman of the Good Neighbor Commission, sat through the entire legislative hearing and said he found no reason to believe discrimination by Tom Kennedy or Three Rivers. Mr. Tom Sutherland, executive secretary and brother to Liz Carpenter on Lyndon Johnson’s staff, reported discrimination after a phone conversation with Mr. Kennedy.

 

5.    The 51st Legislative Hearing Committee issued a majority report signed by 4 legislators finding Tom Kennedy not guilty of discriminating against Beatrice Longoria as charged by Hector P. Garcia. Frank Oltorf, an LBJ confidant and the lone dissenter, issued a minority report saying it “appeared” Kennedy may have discriminated, but he could not say conclusively. Oltorf joined the rest of the committee members in saying “there is no evidence” of discrimination by “the citizens of Three Rivers.

 

Even though the 327 page record of the 51st Legislative Hearing at Three Rivers disappeared with the critical testimonies that could have cleared the issues, the majority and minority reports are available with signatures through the Texas State Library and Archives.