Many soldiers from World War II were Hispanics and Latinos. When they returned home, they were respected by many people for their dedication, which gave them a new sense of confidence. Arthur Muñoz, a veteran, declared, “We fought as Americans, not Mexican-Americans.” Soon, various laws and court decisions, like the GI Bill, were passed. The bill allowed veterans a full year of unemployed compensation, a range of low-interest loans to buy a house or start a business, and offered to pay for college tuition. The race of the veteran did not matter. Also, thirteen Mexicans were granted the Medal of Honor, which is the highest medal that can be given to a member of the armed forces. They were also given the chance to join the US Congress. This gave Mexican-Americans many opportunities they might not have previously had.
In 1949, an important series of elections for Hispanics began. Edward Roybal, a World War II veteran, won the election for the Los Angeles City Council. Henry B. Gonzalez became a councilman in San Antonio, Texas. Both men went on to serve in the US House of Representatives. On May 3, 1954, Hernandez v. State of Texas ruled that “Mexican-Americans were a ‘distinct class’ that had the right to protection from discrimination.” Before, Mexican-Americans were grouped with other white children. This gave proof of discrimination in places like Jackson County, Texas, where Hispanics weren’t allowed to serve on the jury even though they made up 14% of the population. In 1947, the California governor, Earl Warren, signed a bill that desegregated the state's public schools. In 1954, the Supreme Court released the famous Brown v. Board of Education case, which outlawed school segregation across the United States. Curiously, the Supreme Court was led by Chief Justice Earl Warren at the time, former governor of California.