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The Texas Observer An Independent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper A Window to the South Volume 53 TEXAS, DECEMBER 22, 1961 15c per copy Number 38 Making the Most Of ‘Slow’ Minds 75,000 IN TEXAS AT LARGE Democrats won in San Antonio, a Democrat and a Republican squared off for a runoff in the Wichita Falls congressional district, and an unusually light turnout was expected in the fourth district race to choose a successor to Speaker Sam Rayburn. These were developments this week on the special election front: ODemocratic Rep. Franklin Spears, a liberal and leader of the San Antonio delegation in the Texas House, defeated Republican James Helland in the special race to fill Cong. Henry Gonzalez’ vacated seat in the Texas Senate. The vote was 23,807 to 16,759. Liberal Democrat Rudy Esquivel edged Republican Raymond Russell, former Democrat and state representative, 20,618 to 20,327. Russell immediately sought a recount. ODemocrat Graham B. Pur cel, a moderate liberal, and conservative Republican Joe Bailey Meissner led the special election field in the 19-county, traditionally Democratic Wichita Falls district. In the race to fill Frank Ikard’s seat, Purcell received 8,928 and Meissner 6,702. Gov . Price Daniel must set the run-off date sometime between Jan. 22 and Feb. 6. ONo more than 15,000 voters, possibly fewer, were expected to go to the polls Dec. 23, after this issue goes to the press, to fill the Rayburn vacancy. Five Democrats and one Republican are in the race. OThe second Republican elect ed to the Texas House in the off-year special elections, George Korkmas of Texas City, was sworn in by Speaker Jim Turman. Korkmas, who polled only 28.3 percent of the vote in the sudden-death House election to fill County Judge Pete LaValle’s place, will join the GOP’s Kenneth Kohler of Amarillo, who was elected last month. The two will form the first two-man Republican bloc since Reconstruction in the Texas House. Demo Unity In the San Antonio race, the total vote was 41,644, less than half the 97,000 cast in the November election in which Gonzalez bested Republican John Goode. The third ‘man in the Senate field, arch-conservative Bard Logan of the Constitution Party, polled 353 votes. Indications were strong that the three losing Democratic candidates in the Wichita Falls congressional race would support Purcell against Meissner in the run-off. These would include Jack Hightower, Wilbarger County district attorney, who polled 6,129; Rep. Vernon Stewart of Wichita Falls, who got 2,734; and Archer City attorney Jimmy Horany, who finished with 2,058. Democratic Committeewoman Mrs. J. Pickens Coleman, in .a letter to a Wichita Falls newspaper, said this week she was “commending the other Democratic candidates for their statements of support to Judge Purcell.” Purcell declared that the runoff “will show the Democratic Party is much in the majority in our district. The final outcome is inevitable.” Countered Sen. John Tower, a native of Wichita Falls: “I think conservatives have every cause for optimism, and with hard work Meissner can win.” The congressional district has never voted Republican. Even in the Blakley-Tower Senate run-off last May, native son Tower failed to carry a county. Purcell ran as a moderate liberal. He quoted Rayburn’s wellknown slogan in the campaign, “I am a Democrat without prefix or suffix.” He charged that the Republicans, if they gained control of Congress, might commit “reckless and dangerous military gestures.” Meissner, on the other hand, said, “I wear the badge of conservatism proudly. Citing “the breakneck rush to socialism,” he campaigned against federal aid to education, government controls on farming, and “socialized medicine.” Cong. Bob Wilson of California, who heads the GOP congressional HOUSTON “Racial separation in this country does two things. Just as it emphasizes the will of the majority, it also emphasizes the tremendous desires of the minority. If a man in the minority is told, “You are not like the majority,’ he wants to find out what he is.” . This is part of John Biggers’ explanation for going to Africa. Dr. Biggers is head of the art department at Texas Southern University. He is also a Negro, and being a Negro in this country, he says, usually means that one feels rootless and at odds with oneself and with the world. He has told about his odyssey of self-discovery in a book, Ananse: the Web of Life in Africa, which the University of Texas Press will bring out in the spring. This week he told the Observer what went into the book. “If your bloodline is English., you know what your ancestral background is, so you know what you are,” he continued. “The contributions of the English people are undisputed. But what does a Negro know about his African heritage? What do most people know about Africa? “If you take the idea that what a man is is part of his roots, then it becomes important to him to find out about those roots. If you are called a savage, sub-human, you want to find out if it’s true. Indignation Backfires In El Paso EL PASO County Treasurer Pierce Atwater of El Paso says he is “moderately indignant” over the conduct of the ultra-conservative National Indignation Committee, El Paso branch. The organization rented Liberty Hall in El Paso to hold a meeting Nov. 25. Because there would be no admission charge and no collection, the hall was given the Indignants for only $25. When the group rented the hall for two more nights, Nov. 28 and 29, the committee was informed the rent would be $150, “the usual charge,” reported the El Paso Times, “made for schools, churches, and civic groups for their functions.” The hall was then rented by Turner Bennett. He became ill while sitting on the stage during one of the rallies and had to be removed to a hospital. County Recreation Director Sam Cohen was referred to a C. Robert Lane for payment of the rent. When Lane protested the charge, Cohen agreed to take $100 a night for the last two meetings. The total bill ran to $225. That was three weeks ago, and since then no word has been received from the Indignation Committee. That, Treasurer Atwater told the commissioners court this week, is why he is indignant. County Judge Woodrow Bean, noting the small crowds that attended the rallies “despite a great deal of advertisement in advance,” commented: “This proves that El Paso is not indignantat least about the things the Indignation Committee wants it to be indignant about.” “All that has been written about Africa, textbooks and magazine articlesnone acknowledges the African as equal. Missionaries have written about Africans as sub-human savages because they want to get money to continue their work. Merchants spread the same word because they want to keep power. During the 19th century anthropologists took over Darwinism and applied it to social evolution. The African world was justified as the kind of fossil remains of a civilization that later evolved into the European and all other civilizations. Anthropologists have thrown out that idea now, but the notion lingers on. “Of course things are getting better. People see talented Negroes representing their countries at the United Nations and they wonder, ‘Where did these fellows get this ability if they just walked out of a tree?’ ” Biggers traveled to Africa on ‘a UNESCO artist exchange program, staying six months in Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. If the information circulated’ about Africa is accurate in any part, says Biggers, it is accurate in what is known about African art. But even in this area he found he had to modify his assumptions. “We are usually taught that all African art is expressionistic,” he said. “But at Efe in Nigeria the Society of Antiquity has been AUSTIN Texas is developing a “twotrack” educational system. Although about 75,000 school-age children are mentally retarded, the state had no particular program for them before 1952. Today about a third of them are receiving special education in a seven-step pattern entirely unlike the normal twelve-grade curriculum. Mentally insufficient children have such painful problems, people would rather not think about them, and for a long time most Texans didn’t. “We were late in starting in Texas,” says Charles Eskridge, director of the special education division of the Texas Education Agency, “but we have caught up with the rest of the nation pretty much.” Most of the major cities have begun giving special attention to their retarded students in separate classrooms, but San Antonio is lagging behind. Retarded pupils usually get less special attention in smaller school districts than in most of the major cities. Of the state’s 44,000 school-age educable mentally retarded children, one-third, 14,817, are enrolled in special school programs, Eskridge says. Only 1,327 of the 22,000 “trainable” retardeds are receiving special training in the public schools, however, and the schools are prohibited by the terms of state law from enrolling the roughly 20,000 “untrainables.” The most serious barrier to the expansion of the Texas program unearthing art of bronze and terra cotta, showing the existence of a pre-Christian society whose art forms relate very closely to the art forms of the Mediterranean world, rather than to the expressionistic wood carvings usually found in Africa. This bespeaks some other culture. Here is somebody we don’t know anything about. The Efe bronze heads have been caste with eggshell thinness. With all our technical advancement, we are unable to match them. These people were highly skilled. What happened to them? The same thing that happened to the Romans. When you have centuries of war, societies get buried.” What Is Primitive? As for the idea that Africans are primitives, Biggers is willing to go along, if the definition of primitive is greatly expanded and refined. He explained: “The Ashanti people used gold weights for balancing gold dust, which was the currency from the 13th century up to 1895 when the British conquered them. These gold weights were made in many formsanimals, humans, vegetables, abstract “Well, though the introduction of the British pound as currency made these gold weights no longer a necessary part of the Ashanti’s life, they went right on making them anyway. Metal casting continues as a major craft in West Africa and the ancient processes are still usedand the multi meanings of the images persists. “These are primitive people, all right, but they give a broader meaning to primitive. You will find that primitive people can evolve in one direction and create a very complex point of view. Biggers found the religious traditions of the back country especially complex. He collected about 2,000 African proverbs, and claims that for every Hebrew proverb there is an African proverb of similar sentiment. For instance, reminiscent of the Biblical admonition to fear the power that can kill the soul, not the power that kills the body, is this African proverb: “Unless you die of Onyayou and you will not perish.” But the Biblical duplicate for these African sayings might be more difficult to discover: “You will not say ‘Oh it does not matter,’ were you tranquil,” and “Death is not a sleeping room for frequent visits.” Imitation Loss Biggers, 37, was born in Gastonia, N.C., one of six children, and made his way via Hampton Institute to Penn State, where he earned his three degrees. He has won a number of honors in art competition. Practically always his subject is the Negro and the Ne WICHITA FALLS RUN-OFF Democrats Win In Bexar Election Searchin4 for Roots in Africa for congenitally backward students is an acute shortage of qualified special teachers for them. Dr. John Peck, educational psychology professor at the University of Texas, is supervising a federally-aided program there to turn out more such teachers. President Kennedy, announcing appointment of a panel to direct a national attack on mental retardation, said “Approximately 5,000,000 persons in this country are retarded. It strikes at those least able to protect themselvesour children. It affects by its nature their relationships to all members of their families and their friends. Thus, mental retardation is a serious personal matter to at least one out of every twelve people. It disables . . . 600 times as many as infantile paralysis.” Educators divide mentally retarded youths, about three percent of the population, into three groups, the untrainables \(one-half the educable mentally retarded These children used to be called, ; respectively, idiots, imbeciles, and morons, and of course to some ex tent they still are among people who, for example, still call mental institutions insane asylums. Between the “EMR’s,” the educable mentally retarded, and the average students fall the “slow learners,” about 20 ‘to 25 percent of the population. “About a quarter of your school population will