On this day in 1934, the School Defense League was founded in San Antonio to promote educational opportunities for Mexican-American children. Within a few months of its formation the committee had developed a coalition for school reform from seventy-three civic, social, labor, and religious groups representing 75,000 persons. On October 24 the league sponsored a rally that drew 10,000, mostly women and children. This was perhaps the largest rally ever held by Mexican Americans in San Antonio to that time. The league dissolved in 1935 and was revived as the School Improvement League in 1947. When its investigations into overcrowding revealed classrooms that held as many as 75 students, the group petitioned the school board on November 12, 1947, for six to eight new elementary schools, a junior high, a senior high, and a vocational school. In 1950 the city passed a $9.3 million bond issue for school construction. The league operated until 1956.
On this day in 1978, Iola Bowden Chambers, music teacher and director of the Negro Fine Arts School, died in Brownwood. Chambers was born at Holder, Texas, in 1904. She developed an early interest in music, and after receiving a diploma in piano from Daniel Baker College in 1923, she studied at the Washington Conservatory of Music, where she received a graduate diploma in piano in 1926. She returned to Texas and taught piano before moving to Georgetown in 1933 to become a music instructor at Southwestern University. As an early white proponent of black education, she helped found the Negro Fine Arts School in 1946, in which students from Southwestern University taught local African-American children to play the piano. The program, in operation from 1946 to 1966, added vocal music and art in later years. The Negro Fine Arts School staged an annual recital to showcase the students' accomplishments, and awarded scholarships to students going to college or pursuing other higher education. The school also helped to ease the transition from segregation to integration both in the Georgetown Independent School District and at Southwestern University. Charles Miller, one of the first students in the Negro Fine Arts School, said of Chambers, "She was the one that came across the railroad tracks and helped us all. Miss Bowden was to Georgetown what Eleanor Roosevelt was to the United States, because she was one of the first."
On this day in 1918, J. Marvin Leonard, "Mr. Marvin," opened his first store in Fort Worth. Leonard was born in 1895 near Linden, Texas. During World War I he moved to Dallas, where he worked in a store that specialized in salvaged merchandise. In 1918 he moved west to Forth Worth and opened a store in which his brother, Obadiah, joined him the next year. Leonard Brothers prospered and rapidly expanded beyond its original offering of groceries and salvaged merchandise. Marvin Leonard used extensive advertising, eye-catching events, and a commitment to low profit margin and high volume to turn the firm into the largest retail establishment in Forth Worth. Obadiah, known as "Mr. Obie," was in charge of store operations at Leonard Brothers. In this role he participated in the design, construction, and renovation of a store that eventually sprawled over nine acres of downtown Fort Worth. By the 1930s Leonard Brothers dominated retailing in the Fort Worth area. Obadiah Leonard purchased his brother's interest in the store in 1965 and sold Leonard Brothers to Charles David Tandy in 1967. On March 4, 1974, Tandy sold Leonard Brothers to Dillards, and the Leonards' name came down from the stores.
On this day in 1837, the Congress of the Republic of Texas established the Board of Medical Censors, a forerunner of the Board of Medical Examiners, for the purpose of granting licenses to practice medicine and surgery in the republic. The law required that the board be composed of one physician from each senatorial district and that the members be graduates of medicine and surgery from authorized colleges and universities. A twenty-dollar fee was collected from those who passed an examination. Without a license, physicians could not collect unpaid fees in court. The first board included among its members Ashbel Smith, A. C. Hoxey, George W. Hill, J. B. P. January, R. A. Irion, Thomas Anderson, and A. M. Levy. The board was scheduled to meet once each year, but difficulty of transportation over long distances and Indian attacks frequently prevented annual meetings. The board was discontinued by a state legislative act in 1848.