Senator Yarborough Reads a Letter Fort Worth Occasionally an event incorporates or expresses the deeper tendencies of events. Senator Ralph Yarborough’s appearance before the Texas Council of Voters in the tony Blackstone Hotel this month was such an event. The Negro political organization, one of the four constituent parts of the liberal Democratic Coalition of Texas, attracted about 150 delegates who moved freely through the hotel and its dining room. Sen. Yarborough, who had never before addressed a Negro political convention, made his support of civil rights legislation abundantly clear. There was also a moment that embodied the evolution of this native East Texas political man from a segregationist in the ways of his home people into a representative of the present times. The senator read the Negro delegates a two-page letter he had received from a white man in Wharton, B. E. Bernstein. In this letter, Bernstein said that he had publicly advocated integration of Wharton Junior College in his town in 1954, but that this has caused public hostility that eventually forced the selling out of his father’s department store, in which he had been general manager. Senator Yarborough read from the letter, ” ‘You and I are not very brave and patriotic if we do not have the courage to stand up for our fellow Americans who A Personal Aside One of the speakers at the Texas Council of Voters convention in Fort Worth was Franklin Jones, Sr., the Marshall attorney, co-chairman of the Democratic Coalition, and a contributing editor of the Observer. Folded into his remarks were a few sentences of a personal kind. “I hope it will not be in bad taste to pass along some personal reflections; for it has been said that those who refuse to remember the past are sentenced to re-live it,” he said. “My youth in far East Texas was spent in an era as unlike today as darkness to light. Under the blessings of gradualism human bondage had vanished, to be replaced by racial degradation. As one tempered by the times, I accepted the outward formalism and exterior attitudes required. Perhaps they even became a part of me; perhaps my present position as co-chairman of the Texas Coalition affords an area for atonement; but this is beside the point I come to make.” Whereupon he went on with the main line of his speech. cannot defend themselves. . . . If business establishments were required by law to serve the general public without regard to race, creed, or colorthen the bigots of the community and the state could not select a few which volunteered to boycott and otherwise pressure [them] . . ” The letter continued, Sen. Yarborough said: ” ‘If you think for a minute that the colored American citizens have equal rights in our country and especially in the Dixie part of the Southjust paint the color of your skin a dark brown and go there for a few days. I believe you will be mighty glad to wash the paint off after your personal inspection and investigation.’ ” At this point Sen. Yarborough looked up from the letter and said to the Negro delegates: “Fellow Americans, from where I grew up, I don’t have to make that experiment, I know what the facts are.” He read the letter on through to the close: ” ‘In God’s name help these fellow Americans get their equal rights as other free Americans. Many of the colored citizens live in areas where it is impossible to help themselves without violating the local laws and without resorting to almost open rebellion against overwhelming odds. As a U.S. senator you have the opportunity at this time to serve your nation and its peopleyou can do your part in supporting this new civil rights bill so that the children of all Americans will have a better nation in which to live, and grow, and prosper.’ ” To this letter Sen. Yarborough added, “I think that you know from that letter Oyster and politics? Yes, indeed. Members of the Texas Oyster Growers Assn., alienated from Gov. John Connally by his Park and Wildlife Cmsn.’s rulings which they believe have endangered oyster reefs with new rules on shell dredging in Texas bays, are contributing free oysters for Don Yarborough rallies. And oysters are becoming controversial. After “the world’s largest oyster fry” for Don Yarborough was announced in Pasadena, the Monday Ladies Club of South Texas, through its president, Mrs. W. C. Heite, wrote the mayor of Pasadena : “Having learned from eminent authorities who have appeared before our club that oysters from human sewage contami that I know the situation in Texas.” In the commerce committee of the Senate, he had been one of the 13 who had voted out the civil rights bill that contained the public accommodations section, and on the labor committee he had voted aye as the committee reported out a fair employment act, he said. Turning to “my warm friend, Bill Durham”the T.C.V. president who has long been an attorney for the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People Yarborough said, “Bill Durham says I’m not long on promises. I believe in performance. I believe we’re going to have a civil rights bill. I believe it’s going to pass somehow, sometime this year.” Sen. Yarborough also reviewed, in his speech at the Blackstone, education and library bills and the domestic service corps bill he has supported. He said of his opponent, radio man Gordon McLendon. “He says he’s liberal on civil rights and conservative with money. That means he’s against federal aid, against medicare, against better wages, against unemployment compensation. I’m for medicareI’ve been voting for it. I’m for federal aid in education and I intend to keep on. “Don’t sell my opponent short,” Yarborough said. “He’s already spent $90,000 on billboards. That’s more than I could raise in my U.S. Senate raceI raised $47,000 and I borrowed $40,000. We know there’s already more than a million dollars pledged against me.” Durham told Yarborough, “We may not have enough money to put up 90,000 signs, but we’ll have 90,000 human beings.” The council voted to endorse Yarborough for re-election, becoming the fourth group in the Democratic Coalition to do so. nated areas can cause the crippling liver disease, infectious hepatitis, our club has adopted an interest in public health as this year’s project.” Mrs. Heite asked if the 3,000 or more pounds of oysters to be served at the rally would “be certified oysters, known to come from a sanitary area, fresh and clean.” The president of the oyster association, Larry Hornbeck, gave the mayor a letter assuring him that all of them would come from certified oyster houses and would meet state health requirements. This did not satisfy Mrs. Heite, who wired the mayor that the law requires only that the houses. not the oysters, be certified, and March 20, 1964 9 Oysters and Politics
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