Corpus Program Teaches Birth Control majority of very low-wage workers in Texas are either Latin-American or Negro. The Texas Industrial Cmsn. even advertises for new industry on the basis that there is available in Texas a low-wage pool of two million Mexican-Americans.” Brown said it’s futile to set goals of excellence in education, health, and other areas “when the vast majority of Texas working people do not make enough to keep their children in elementary and high school.” Rep. John Alaniz, San Antonio, has introduced a $1.25 minimum wage bill in the Texas legislature, but it is not likely to attract the support of more than a fifth of the House. Lester Graham of Fort Worth, regional director of national AFL-CIO, said Connally’s action was “ridiculous” and pointed out that a man earning $1.25 an hour 50 weeks makes $2,600 a year, $400 less than the federal poverty boundary. Graham added, “I would like to see Governor Connally try and live on $1.25 an hour.” Nationally, labor wants a 35-hour week and a $2-an-hour minimum; the Johnson administration has refused to go along. National labor president George Meany said in Miami Beach in February, “All these things total right up to this whole question of the war on poverty or the socalled Great Society.” Noting the $1.25 rate was below the poverty line, Meany said, “This is of tremendous importance this whole question of wagesif we intend to eliminate poverty.” Relationships between Texas AFL-CIO and Connally-Blodgett got off to a predictably poor start when Blodgett was appointed last December. Jim Givins, secretary of the El Paso AFL-CIO Council, called Blodgett “the worst possible choice for the job. . . . Blodgett looks down at anyone who has to work for a living.” Speaking of Blodgett’s work as city manager of Garland, near Dallas, Roy Evans, No. 2 man in Texas labor, called him “a hatchet man for management of the city” who “has generally followed the Republican view.” Evans says that there has been no communication about the Texas war on poverty between the governor’s office and state labor, although labor officials are active in local projects. Connally and the :legislature have drawn support from one quarter they probably would just as soon not have heard from Republican U.S. Sen. John Tower, who introduced legislation to prohibit paying, under the anti-poverty law, a rate higher than the prevailing rate in an area. In a wire to Speaker Ben Barnes of the 149-to-1 Democratic Texas House, Tower said: “I fully agree with the Texas House.” He had inserted its resolution in the Congressional Record, he said. Cty. Cmsr. Albert Pena of San Antonio, chairman of the Political Assn. of Spanishthe governor’s veto, “This is the same group that has done nothing to prevent or eliminate poverty in the past. It’s just difficult to work with these same people. . . . I believe that the state officials are not willing to help educate the Mexican-Americans or Negro minorities here.” CORPUS CHRISTI happened to be ready in advance for the war on poverty. Problems of poverty there are acute. More than 60% of the total population over 25 has less than seven years’ formal education ; an estimated 16,000 adults are illliterate. Of the 225,000 people in Corpus, 58,000 live in families that make less than $3,000 a year. Ten thousand houses in the city are sub-standard. Sheridan Lewis, president of two utilities companies, is active in Boys Club work and helped initiate, last summer, a vacation study center at the Boys Club for youths who wanted to do some extra study. With 40 expected, a couple hundred turned up the first day. The Corpus Christi schools picked up the program last September by conducting after-study centers in schools located in the poorest parts of the city. The tutors for these classes are mostly from poor homes, themselves. They are paid $1 an hour. In one pilot project for junior high students, visited by the Observer, about one tenth of the student body of the school were turning up after school to study on their own playing time. They do this either because they cannot study at home, where they have many brothers and sisters and little room, or simply because they want to do better in school. Their principal said that fifteen percent of them have made the honor roll for the first time in their lives, and that this “opened a new world to them.” Enthusiasm among them is, so strong, Ed Grant, the supervisor says, some of them now get together and go help tutor elementary students in another after-school study center at the Boys’ Club. Grant said it does one’s heart good to see these tykes studying away together. The after-school study centers have been incorporated into the Corpus Christi war on poverty. Another facet of the Corpus program is the pre-school English readiness class. This idea, pioneered by state educational authorities, is now part of the federal program as well. Glenna Holloway, public relations spokesman for the Corpus schools’ part in the poverty program, said that to accommodate all the pre-school MexicanAmerican children of the right age, Corpus Christi needs 70 such classes, but under present financing can afford only six. \(The federal grant to Corpus Christi is $295,teacher, but also two assistants hired from the poor neighborhoods from which the children also come. The objectives of the classes are to prepare the children for spoken English and to give them experiences in social play many of them have not had. Wilfred “Cal”, Calnan, the city-county welfare director in Corpus Christi, says that another idea is being considered in Corpus, “neighborhood aides.” These would be poor people who would be hired to go their own neighbors. The difficulty is that they might be regarded as snoopers. Because of an aspect of traditional Mexican family life, Corpus poverty workers are considering a bizarre experiment. Mexican wives ordinarily do not go out with their husbands at night, Calnan says; the men often go into the bars. The women can be given literacy instruction at night when they are not working, but what about the men ? Calnan says they may wind up taking literacy education into the bars: “Learn to read while sipping on a beer,” someone who overheard him quipped. BIRTH CONTROL, federally financed, is a unique aspect of the Corpus Christi war on poverty. The city has one of the highest birth rates in the state. On the premise that having many children often contributes to poverty, the Corpus program officially includes teaching the poor how to prevent conception. Mrs. J. Gordon Bryson, wife of an M.D. and a leader in the planned parenthood movement in Corpus, was the person who persuaded doubtful citizens that birth control should be a part of the program. She stresses that persons who go to the clinics in Corpus are provided with “”information that is suitable to their religion and to their preference.” She objects to calling the program “birth control,” preferring the term, “family health planning.” Persons are told they can take their choice among the various methods of contraception, from the rhythm method to pills. Although not much money is available yet for the provision of specific birth control devices, they are being provided for a cost or free if the person can’t pay for them. Mrs. Bryson says that about 25 doctors in Corpus are giving their time to the clinic at no charge. Clinic workers are also going out into the neighborhoods of the poor and holding “Imco parties,” Imco being, according to Mrs. Bryson, a contraceptive that does not require a prescription. Mailings will be sent new mothers about birth control. On the day when the first federal war-onpoverty birth control clinic in the United States opened in Corpus Christi, eight mothers had appeared; among them they had 38 children. Mrs. Tony Abarca, an officer in the South Texas Planned Parenthood Assn., stood before the mothers and told them, “We do have the rhythm method. . . . We have jelly, we have cream, we have the diaphragm, and we have the pill. . . . We will prescribe for you what you wish.” Each client, or patient, of the clinic is March 19, 1965 3
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