FORT WORTH LEADER Texas Economic Power and Liberal Dilemma On the condition of statewide support of Don Yarborough in politics in recent years, Mrs. Carthe Democratic primary, Mrs. She and her husband became interested in politics during the Depression. “We saw what the New Deal did for Fort Worth,” she says. “Fort Worth was dead. The merchants were wondering how the government could help them survive. The bankers waited for the New Deal to rehabilitate them, and when it did, they became the bitterest of Roosevelt haters.” When the bankers were going strong again, even with people starving within a few blocks of the courthouse, they were ready for the New Deal to stop. “We listened to these people talk. It astonished us,” she says. She began reading The Nation because of its articles on poetry and the arts, and because Joseph Wood Krutch edited the drama section. The ferment in the American arts during the Depression intrigued her. Unable to afford subscriptions on her $810 a year salary as a teacher, she went to the library on Saturdays and read all day. Later, when she and her husband were scrimping to get through the Depression and “couldn’t afford to go out anywhere,” she brought magazines and journals home overnight from the school library and they read them together. “We found out how John Nance Garner was doing his best to fight Roosevelt,” she says. “The Garner-for-President movement in 1940 made us angry.” In the county Democratic convention that year Jack Carter, with no political experience whatever, led the political fight against Garner and won. “No one was more surprised than we were,” she remembers. The 1940 state convention in Waco was a political lesson. There her husband met, and became friends with, the late Cong. Maury Maverick, who was the floor leader of the anti-Garner forces. Four years later, in ’44, “the people who run the town ran an anti-Roosevelt candidate for county chairman.” Carter opposed him on a straight pro-FDR ticket, carried 99 of 116 precincts, and was elected. Realizing, she said, that her husband could not do all the routine work of county chairman and run a law practice, she started to help with the more routine chores. She drew maps of the county, memorized the boundaries of the precincts, learned the names of all the chairmen, studied the election code. The two of them also helped organize the local NAACP after 1944, when the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling on a Texas case, handed down its historic decision against the “white man’s primary” of the Democratic Party. This fact, among others, especially their frequent controversies with Amon Carter on local issues, contributed to Carter’s poor showing as a pro-Homer Rainey candidate for the state Senate in 1946. Ever since then Mrs. Carter has moved into a steadily more active role in the county’s politics, and she is generally considered the liberal leader there now. Absolute Rulership What are Fort Worth politics really like? “It’s the function of the same group that runs the Chamber of Commerce,” she answers, “and I don’t suppose that’s any different from the other big cities in Texas. Fort Worth is not a cityits ur THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 2 July 7, 1962 ban institutions haven’t settled down enough for it to be a metropolis. It’s an overgrown country town. “It was a stop on the cattle trails. That’s what made it a town. Then it was a cotton town, and when the cotton land wore out, it became a grain town. Around the turn of the century it became a packing town. Then came oil. Since most of the oil was found under the ranchers’ land, the ranchers became the oilmen. “Amon Carter \(no took Fort Worth by storm in the ‘twenties.” He bought the Fort Worth Record and eventually took charge of Fort Worth politics, though he was “quite a long time consolidating his control beyond the newspapers and the city hall.” When he gained control of the Chamber of Commerce, he found it too unwieldy, too large; he began working through the Fort Worth Club, composed, “like the Dallas Athletic Club and all the rest, of bankers, industrialists, key representatives among the out-of-state businesses, and their lawyers and retainers.” Amon Carter, she believes, was “the absolute ruler of the community. Anyone who crossed him was througheven through making a living. He decided who would be president of the Chamber of Commerce, what new industries to go after, what new buildings would be built. What he decided was the way it was.” Since Carter’s death, “no one has run Fort Worth.” His absence has created a leadership vacuum. “There was no one in his fifties, say, who had experience in civic affairs. They were all overshadowed by Amon Carter. Everyone who’s tried to take over since his death has been cut down by the others.” Won’t Accept Dissent “It’s practically impossible,” she says, “to be an educated liberal and make a living in Fort Worth. So people either abandon their liberalism or they move out. “Dallas used to be a civilized, cosmopolitan city, and now look at_ it.” It refuses to accept dissent either. Reformers in Fort Worth once looked to Dallas “as an enlightened city. How much ‘inactive’ opinion-holding there is there I don’t know. But you can’t hold liberal opinions, have liberal values, in a vacuum, in your mind only. The contexts of reality are constantly changing. A person’s values must constantly be tested against those changes. “That’s why I’m an active liberalto save my own soul. I have to keep acting on liberal convictions in order to test them out. I want to be a person who’s alive and aware of our own times. “And practicing liberals simply can’t go on making a living in Fort Worth. Of course, an exception is the man I married, and that’s our only claim to fame. We’ve spent a whole lifetime paying for that independencebut that’s the only way we’d have it.” When a young reformer expresses an interest in running for office, Mrs. Carter says, several questions need to be answered. How did he get his job and how can he lose it? Does he get along with his wife? Are there any skeletons in his closet? Where does he borrow money when he needs it? “As soon as you announce for office, we advise him, the people opposed to your running will look for those answers. Most people interested in politics here won’t go on when they find out what’s involved.” “I don’t feel in the least sorry for myself, and I certainly don’t think I’m an inverted snob. But you ask what makes the community tickand that’s what makes it tick. I don’t say these things out of bitterness; I don’t feel bitter about these people who can’t carry responsibility. But this is the way it seems to me.” In this country, she believes, it has been the “intellectuals” and the “aristocrats” who have “bailed out the businessmen” when they ran into trouble. “And who brings the gentlemen to the White House? Not the party of power and money, but the party of the people.” ‘Remarkable’ In the general election for governor of Texas, after her active Carter says she will vote the straight Democratic ticket. “I don’t see how I can excuse myself,” she comments, “from supporting the nominees of the primary in which I have participated. The situation is not the same as it was in the TowerBlakley run-off last year,” in which she backed the Republican. “That was a special election, not a party primary. This one was. “We knew Yarborough’s support would be submerged here. After all, this is Connally’s hometown. We tried to keep Connally’s strength here from creating an overwhelming handicap.” As for Yarborough’s statewide showing, she found it “remarkable. What did he have except what he had learned in the last two years” and votes “from the people who responded to his discussion of state issues. He didn’t have the money, the newspaper, and yet he got 48.8 percent of the vote. He just talked to the people about the problems of their state and their government. I think it was tremendous.” ‘Can’t Be Done’ She often uses the description “liberal civilization”; to her it is synonymous with enlightened Ole Miss .professors whose names were on a black list compiled by Citizens Council members. This move was halted by then-Gov. J. P. Coleman, who appeared privately before the board and reminded its members that mixing politics into the operation of an educational institution was dangerous. During this tense time, however, a large number of professors resigned and many declared openly that they were in the words of one, “tired of coping with Mississippi’s negative attitude toward education and academic freedom” and “continual interference” by the state legislature. In 1959 two members of the state House, Wilburn Hooker and Edwin White, both of Lexington, Miss., petitioned the trustees to investigate certain University faculty members, including the dean of the Ole Miss law school, who had openly advocated adhering to the 1954 Supreme Court ruling as a matter of professional ethics. These professors, Hooker and White said, should be fired because they “teach integration.” Also, the two Holmes county legislators declared in their petition, the trustees ought to find out why “most University education professors hired between 1946 and 1957 came from the North and Middle West and most of them received their higher degrees from schools noted for liberalism.” The board of trustees dismissed those oblique charges as groundless and expressed confidence in the way Ole Miss was being run. But Hooker and White and their sympathizers have continued to hunt for witches in Mississippi’s educational structure. And since Gov. Coleman, a reasonable man, was succeeded by -rabble-rousing Ross Barnett as chief of state in 1960 the state Citizens Council organization leaders have had a direct line to the governor’s office. The recent ruling that Meredith’s application for transfer to Ole Miss was turned down solely Western culture, with humaneness, with appreciation for something more than the crass, the material, and the convenient. To her, Texas obviously has a long way to go. It is impossible, she feels, to create this liberal civilization without active and effective participation in politics by people most committed to those values. Hence Margaret Carter the historian, the student of literature and the arts, is Margaret Carter the political organizer, the precinct by precinct tactician. “Take Germany,” she says. “It had a very high level of average education, and yet so many people tried to buy their freedom in other areas by leaving politics alone, by announcing to the world that they were ‘non-political.’ This phrase apparently was habitual with newspapermen and ministers and intellectuals. “It can’t be done,” she believes; this is the lesson of Nazi Germany. “A person is involved in politics by withdrawing from it the same as being active in it. Dwight Moody once wrote, ‘It may not take much for a man to be a Christian, but it takes a lot of him.’ You can’t permanently neglect politics and expect a liberal society. You can’t have an Achilles heel like that.” W.M. because he was a Negro, therefore, may very well fan the long smoldering fires of racial conflict in this deep South state where the racial double standard has not been seriously challenged before. Meredith brought his case into federal court with the assistance of the NAACP after the University rejected two applications for admission. After many delays the case was tried last January before U.S. District Judge Sidney Mize, an amiable Mississippian who believes strongly in maintaining tradition and in state sovereignty. On Feb. 5, Judge Mize ruled against Meredith, declaring that he had been rejected for “reasons other than racial.” While Meredith appealed to the New Orleans Circuit Court of Appeals, state officials filed against him a charge that he had violated the state voter registration law in 1960 by falsely listing Hinds County \(where the college as his residence. His application to the University, the state charged, lists his residence as Kosciusko, Miss. The appeals court injunction ordering Ole Miss to accept Meredith as a student is effective this fall. In reviewing the University’s stated reasons for refusing his application, the court attacked charges that Meredith had falsely registered as a voter, was a trouble maker and was a bad character risk. “The defendents are scraping the bottom of the barrel in asserting that the University should not now admit Meredith,” because he is a bad character risk,” the judges wrote. Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the NAACP, said attorneys would continue to assist Meredith if Mississippi appeals the ruling. Wilkins said the precedent for Meredith’s case was “clearly established” in 1950 when the Supreme Court ordered the admission of a Negro to the University of Texas. He noted that the universities of Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama are the only ones which have not yet integrated. J.M. ter takes a broad economic view. “We’re still in a situation where the basic economic activity is providing the materials for others to processour economy is an extractive one. Our state government is still weak. The people who have no particular loyalties to our state but who find it most profitable to take our wealth away have found it easy to buy the public agencies. “These people have always had the indigenous liberals make a gain, it can be expected that that reserve will be used against us.” After every liberal gain, she says, a setback has ensued. “The native reform movements have never been able to build or to accumulate a reservoir of power that approaches the economic power of those who extract our resources. “It is ironic perhaps, but Texas may never become a center of liberal civilization until all our great natural resources have been drained away. We may not become civilized until we’re poor. “If certain influences working in 1960 had continued to work in 1962, for instance, Turman would have been a shoo-in for lieutenant governor. In 1960 we had sound political facts before us, but we drew too many conclusions from them. The conservatives didn’t sit still. They had reserves to draw on; we didn’t. “Economic power can be trans
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