The coalition then agreed to form local coalitions on the same basis of leadership equality in numbers; to work through the women’s activities division of the state labor organization and the Texas state Democratic women’s committee on the poll tax lists; to drum up poll tax workers from urban liberal organizations, P.A.S.O., the The governor’s middlish civil rights position, ramified now into formal opposition to President Kennedy’s public accommodations legislation, has evoked support and criticism across a wide spectrum of opinion and has provoked spokesmen of organized labor in Texas as they have advanced plans for demonstrations against the exploitation of Mexican workers along the border with Mexico. The various events can best be seen, in their relationships, as a chronology. State labor president Brown’s committee on civil rights in unions last month urged all unions to accept members, refer applicants for jobs or apprentice training, and apply seniority without racial discrimination, and called on Connally to call a special session to prohibit race as a basis for employment by the state, as well as to enact a $1.25 minimum wage law, equal pay for equal work legislation, and collective bargaining legislation. Roy Evans, state labor secretary, said during the committee’s meeting that “there might be a need for demonstrations” if -employers along the border do not upgrade wages and stop job discrimination against native workers of Mexican extraction. Evans said anti-communist Mexican labor officials have agreed to help on the demonstrations. The next day, Connally, \(smarting, perhaps, from Evans’ criticism -of what he called Connally’s “pretty low appeal” to the united political organization’s convenabout demonstrations “irresponsible” and said they “encouraged racial demonstrations in Texas at a time when all citizens of good will are striving quietly and earnestly to avoid the unrest and disorder that have troubled less harmonious states.” Evans was trying “to inflame this issue for purely personal selfish gain,” Connally said; “Should any racial unrest or crisis now develop in Texas, the officials of the state A.F.L.-C.I.O. must take full credit.” After huddling, state labor’s leaders decided they would accept the governor’s challenge. In a prepared statement, Evans told Connally that more than 20% of Texans live “in shocking poverty,” state labor laws do not protect workers, Mexican laborers are exploited; that demonstrations were suggested only as a “last resort,” but that should other efforts fail, they would be called for, and “Perhaps Gov. Connally will lead our first demonstration, as have governors of other states in recent weeks.” Evans amplified personally: the Valley “stinks with exploitation,” Connally is Texas council of voters \(a Negro state political organization that is now resumstudents. The coalition set as its first goal, enactment of the Nov. 9 constitutional amendment to abolish the poll tax and replace it with 25-cent voter registration, and as its second, the registration of voters for the 1964 elections. R.D. “trying to inflame the public against organized labor”; “Our goal is to encourage peaceful, -non-violent demonstrations.” TUAT NIGHT, Connally delivered his TV address on civil rightsagain committing himself against discrimination in principle; asserting that 16 of 21 public colleges, 26 of 33 public junior colleges, 212 public school districts, 75% of the restaurants, 80% of the hotels, and 80% of the theaters in Texas are desegregated; pledging to do, all in his power to see that Negroes get “free and equal access to public facilities maintained and operated by public taxes”; but opposing the passage of Kennedy’s public accommodations legislation as striking at “one of our most cherished freedomsthe right to own and manage private property, a right as dear to a member of any minority as to any other Texan.” He criticized, in this speech, “the harsh voices of extremism,” “the discordant, divisive elements of either the extreme left . or the extreme right,” “the voices of irresponsible demagogues,” and “radical extremists on both sides,” while identifying himself as “a reasonable voice for progress.” As the governor left for the Miami governor’s conference, his office said response to the speech was overwhelmingly favorable; the president of the Texas real estate, assn., A. B. Beddow, commended him, saying “He was one governor who had the courage to take a stand for the right of private ownership of property”; and there was criticism. Andrew Shuval, president of the University of Texas Young Democrats, asked Connally to end segregation in U.T. athletics and housing, state hiring, and state parks. Sen. Franklin Spears, San Antonio, agreed with Connally in opposing Kennedy’s public accommodations bill, but blamed Connally for not backing Spears’ bill last session to ban state discrimination. At the governors’ conference Connally refused to sign the two civil rights positions that. were in circulation among the governors. Vice President Johnson endorsed the public accommodations bill, saying that “whatever the legalisms or traditions, it is wrong” that Negroes cannot find a bed or meals for their children along the highways, or wash up alongside fellow Americans, eat beside them, or go to school beside them. “I know of no valid right in our system which is jeopardized or compromised or weakened by correcting the wrongs which we know exist among us,” Johnson said. When Connally was asked in Miami to explain his and Johnson’s difference on the issue, Connally said, “He’s vice president of the United States, and I’m governor of Texas. I think that’s the best explanation I can give.” The governor argued also in Miami that repeal of Texas segregation laws seems unnecessary in view of court decisions declaring them unconstitutional. Members of minorities in Texas began to be heard from. In Washington, Fuentes, the P.A.S.O. secretary, testifying on Kennedy’s ‘legislation, said, “John Connally may be proud of the way Texas has progressed, but we are not. . . .” B. T. Bonner, unsuccessful Negro candidate for the Austin city council, “sat in” at the governor’s office overnight until he was given an appointment \(which was to come off in Austhe governor’s mansion in association with Bonner’s protests, and Bonner applied for and got a parade permit for Aug. 28 on the capitol grounds for -a demonstration in sympathy with the Washington demonstration of that date. Rev. C. A. Holliday, a Connally appointee, George Washington, Jr., Negro attorney in Houston, and U.P.O. all came to Connally’s defense. U.P.O. issued a statement, after conferring with Connally, stating mildly they were “in disagreement” with Connally about the public accommodations bill; observing that “there is an increasing and rising tide of impatience on the part of Negroes”; and adding that “the governor’s address constitutes the most significant and positive statement on civil rights -by a public official in the history of this state.” Invited to attend labor’s conference on Mexican-Americans’ working conditions in Laredo last weekend, Connally testily declined. “We all know we have many problems with respect to job training in that area,” he said in tangential reference to labor’s protests of low wages and discrimination there. “I don’t need to go to a meetting called by Roy Evans to find that out,” the governor said. “This is one of the reasons I have stressed the need for improved education in Texas,” he said. Businessmen did not attend the meeting in Laredo, either, and Evans, with Brown’s full concurrence, said the demonstrations will occur if necessary. And Pena, the P.A.S.O. chairman, deplored Connally’s “voluntary approach” to civil rights as “indeed sad,” arguing: “If the governor sincerely believes in the voluntary approach to civil rights, I recommend that he voluntarily issue executive orders calling for desegregation of state parks and public schools and issue a ruling that prospective employees of the state shall not be eliminated from employment because of race . . .” REALISTICALLY, none of these developments can be regarded as separable from the emergence of the Democratic coalitionand the continuing aspirations of a certain Houston fellow, toward whom the Observer now turns its attention. August 9, 1963 5 Connally and the Issue
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