Page 7


people W. J. Cash describes as the old Confederate captains, the mill-owners, and the landowners were all to willing to excite the white populists’ claims to racial superiority. Perhaps, in a modern way, this is what is happening again now in the Goldwater and Wallace movements in the South. It is a fact that the Democratic Coalition movement in Texas is being closely watched by some national political people with a view to applying it to other border states, and eventually to the deep Southern states, if it works here. If it can be aborted here, where there are not only Negroes, but also Mexicans to join with labor and independent liberal Democrats, it could probably be aborted in other Southern states. If it succeeds here, the implications will be Southwide. But that is not the down-to-the-nub question. For such a coalition will succeed or fail, not mainly as a cause, but as a consequence; a consequence of liberal and moderate whites’ either standing or failing to stand openly for equal rights for Negroes, as the moments arrive, local scene by local scene and private conscience by private conscience, that call for this. If they do, the South will have entered a new era, and the modification of Southern institutions, to include Negroes as fullfledged citizens in the life of the region, will have been assured: If they do not, then I do fear for my country. I WAS SPEAKING to a Negro farmer north of here the other day. He is a college man, and reads a great deal. He said, “I am not thinking about myself. I can get along, whatever happens, as well as the next man. If this thing is not worked out, this country can’t survive. There’s just no way for it to.” An overstatement, perhaps. Of course, countries go on for a long time. But it is true, it seems to me, that unless Negroes can achieve, in the North and in the South, honest to God equal citizenship, American leadership in the world will be gravely impaired. One can hardly even visualize the sickening psychological effects that the abortion of the Negroes’ present expectations would cause within the United States. As each month passes with more delay and more dissembling, and as the die-hards search for political forms, the danger of such effects materializing increases. And even as these conflicts rage within our country, it is a fact, how can it be denied?, that the colored peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin-America are thrusting themselves fiercely and angrily into nationhood. No nation that oppresses colored people inside its borders can lead a world that is full of colored people. I very much desire, and I am certain to a pounding of my fist that every one of you very much desires, that the idea of personal liberty prevail to the maximum extent possible in the governments of the world. It is this idea that brought our forefathers here, and drove them to break with Britain and the Old World; and it is this idea that Southern 10 The Texas Observer whites of liberal or moderate bent on race will be failing, if they fail to do and say publicly and proudly in their cities and towns of this free country what many of them have been doing and saying in private on behalf of the rights of Negroes. It appears to me that the GoldwaterTower wing of the Republican Party has decided to make whatever compromises, or apparent compromises, it must, to carry the Southern Republican delegations next year, perhaps then intending, if Goldwater gets the nomination, to try to cut some into Negro votes in the fall campaign. I certainly would not contend that the Goldwater movement is attempting to establish the Republican Party as a segregationist party: Goldwater himself joined the NAACP and helped desegregate his home city. Certainly we should wait to see all the evidence. But the Goldwater Republicans do now seek to divide the opinion of the country over the issue of civil rights vs. property rights, as this issue is embodied in Kennedy’s public accomodations bill. With this model, the Goldwater Republicans have a good chance of making the party of Lincoln the party of the South. That would be an irony sufficient even for the sardonic humors of history. I am very much in favor of a two-party system in the South. One-party politics tends to cover corruption, and is really no-party politics. The Observer endorsed John Tower for the United States Senate, a circumstance which, it has been said a few times, may have been of small assistance in electing him. I have never hesitated to publish proof of the corruption of, or criticism of the selfish expediency of, leading Texas members of the party which I generally prefer, the Democratic one. I believe we should celebrate a man who is forthrightly what he is; who goes to the party that represents his views, without consenting to become a property of that party; who does not fear to be a Republican, if that’s what he really is. I don’t think we should celebrate a man who calls hemself a Democrat if he does so because he can make out better in Texas as one, even though he knows he’s really a Republican. But neither could I celebrate a man who, being a Democrat, leaves his party now for the purpose of joining a faction of the Republicans who are seeking to make hay with the Citizens’ Council. If a twoparty system now means that Democrats will turn from Kennedy because of his moral leadership against discrimination, then what began as a movement for honest politics in Texas will have become a movement to accomplish the decline of this country as a leader of the cause of personal liberty in the world. And the cause of personal liberty is more important than the cause of two-party politics. I WOULD SAY, subjectively, that heretofore the three great domestic crisis of our national life have been these our genesis, in revolution and constitutional government; the war that ended slavery; and the New Deal that made floors for poverty. Just when this, our fourth great domestic crisis, really began, no one could sayperhaps with Martin Luther King’s bold and pioneering bus boycott in 1955-’56, in Montgomery; or in the first sit-ins a few years ago. It is expressive of the authenticity and intensity of this crisis that there was no great precipitating event, and that the unrest has persisted and proceeded from energies within the Negro people, less a march than a moiling, less an explosion than a ceaseless turbulence. That it is a crisis, no one can deny; and whether it finds some climactic apotheosis in Washington next week or not, that it will continue on beyond that, surely no one would deny. I do not feel against these times any sense of resentment or burden. Once again, these are the times that try men’s souls, but what is a man for if not to be tried? This, our fourth domestic crisis, gives us 1963 Americans our chance to be a part of the great, historic pursuit of an elusive dream. As our nation competes abroad against a new form of ancient European totalitarianism, we hasten at home to undo inherited Old World wrongs, that the idea of personal liberty, of this band of people living together in freedom and plenty, may spread around the world and be known in every clime among people of every kind and color as the idea we preach and the idea we practice; as the American idea. Next the call of the crisis will swing toward Southern whites who have been moved by the morality of Negro expectations, and who wish to help correct the stubborn wrongs that are done him. Just as Negroes these last few years have had to decide whether they will risk everything for their beliefs, and just as Negroes have been clubbed down in the streets, kicked before the altars of cafes, bitten by dogs, hosed down by police, and jailed by the thousands, so will Southern whitei who wish to purge their consciences of the national legacy of discrimination have to decide whether they will risk everything for their beliefs, and tell the men they work beside, or practice law with, the bankers they borrow from, the wholesalers they buy from, the customers they sell to, the politicians they vote for, or don’t vote for, that Negroes are men and women and children, and have the same rights as us all, that it is not for us whites benignly to give them these rights, but that it is for us whites to stop withholding these rights from them. I know I have felt this call as it has turned upon me, and I have felt within me the alarm of it; and I guess men have all over the South, and all over East Texas. For John Donne told us, “No man is an island, entire of itself ; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind: And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”