A CASE IN POINT Austin Recently an event occured that has seemed to underscore the words of Sen. Yarborough in his gentle criticism of Mexican-American organizations whose thrust becomes blunted by, among other things, governmental appointments of their leaders. The Senator specifically mentioned the League of United Latin American citiLULAC had been asked to stage a demonstration in San Antonio earlier this month when President Johnson and a number of envoys from LatinAmerican nations visited there. The demonstration, suggested by an unidentified person, would have been for the purpose of calling attention to the problems of Texas’ Mexican-Americans. State LULAC officials refused the idea and, furthermore, made a point of telling President Johnson, by letter, of their refusal. The letter was also made available to the press, evidently by LULAC. “Due to respect for yourself, the office of the Presidency, and because of our profound devotion and loyalty to America this office felt such a demonstration would only damage our country in the eyes of the Latin-American visitors, and would serve no useful purpose, and perhaps have some adverse impact on the upcoming Punta del Este conference.” So wrote LULAC’s state executive director Manuel Garza to LBJ. Senator Yarborough and Texas’ Wo-Surrender’ Conference Austin The semiannual rumor that Sen. Ralph Yarborough might run for governor having bloomed again, the Observer asked him to see if he would water it. The question, he said, was premature. Right now he is devoting all his time to legislation. “I am being encouraged by people to run,” he said, and after the Congress is over, “I’ll come back to Texas and consider that next fall.” The occasion for the senator’s presence in Austin was the second meeting of Dr. George Sanchez’ Mexican-American Joint Conference. State Sen. Joe Bernal had taken away much of the play earlier in the week with his conference in San Antonio attended and spoken to by Gov. John Connally, Sen. Yarborough, and Cong. Henry Gonzalez. Sanchez had opted not to attend the San Antonio conference, and somewhat fewer than the 30 or 40 who formed the leadership Joint Confer ence turned up in Austin for the second meeting. It was in this flagging context that first Roy Evans, state secretarytreasurer of the Texas AFL-CIO, and then Yarborough appeared and spoke. Sanchez related to the meeting what he described as deliberate suppression of information on the education of TexasMexican children by officials of the Texas Education Agency, to whom he had written asking for the information. Evans spoke of the forniation of neighborhood councils among the poor in Laredo as a new break-through for the Texas-Mexican poor. YARBOROUGH began by paying tribute to Sanchez, a professor of education, for his long service in the cause of the Mexican-American people. Yarbor ough said Sanchez fought against discrimination in the 1930’s and has never been appeased by appointments. The League of United Latin-American Citizens, the LULACs, formed after World War I, Yarborough said, but “pretty soon the leaders joined the country club” and then “they didn’t fight quite as hard.” After World War II the GI Forum organized, and they were his kind of people, too, Yarborough said. “The leaders of that organization, they’ve become affluent,” he added. Dr. Sanchez, he said, “didn’t change. He never ceases to work for those who need the help the worst. .. . That’s the value of this conference. This is the no surrender conference.” Speaking of government appointments, he said some officials proceed on the basis that “‘If we appoint this man to this board, you shut up.’ That doesn’t work with Dr. George Sanchez.” Thereupon the Senator delivered a wideranging criticism of social conditions in Texas reminiscent of the themes of many of his speeches when he was running for governor. Texas, he said, is still 32nd in education and 34th in average per capita income among the states. “What’s the matter?” he asked. Progress is made in every year over the preceding year, of course, he said, “but we’re not progressing as fast as other states. In the past ten years we’ve been 43rd among the states in our rate of progression.” Turning to his ten years in the U.S. Senate he was sworn in on April 29, 1957 Yarborough mentioned the elementary and secondary school education aid bills as great events, but he added, “We’re not spending enough, because the money goes to spending for big contracts for spending and war. It’s hard to get money for little people unless a share of it goes to big contractors.” One reason Texas ranks so low among the states, even though it is sixth in gross resources, is its lack of a minimum wage law, he said. Thirty-seven of the states have such a law, and “there’s no other industrial state that has no minimum wage law.” The Senator alluded to his passage of this law through the Senate. For the first time, he said, federal minimums apply to laundries, hospitals, hotels, motels, nursing homes, and farm labor. “Some people say it will raise the price of things,” Yarborough said. “What difference does it make if you and I have to pay a nickel more to get a shirt laundered rather than have a woman with children out here to support earning 421/2 cents an hour? “I see the State of Texas running around over the country trying to get the new law declared unconstitutional. What’s the matter with the state government of Texas, running around upholding slave labor? They ought to be passing laws, instead of trying to destroy them. They are trying to destroy them.” In El Paso, he said, laundry workers made 421/2c to 47c an hour; in San Antonio, 40c an hour, with top ironers getting 65c an hour. Now they must get $1, and within four years this rate scales up to $1.60. The attorney general of Texas, Crawford Martin, Yarborough charged, is “trying to destroy this law” as it applies to state employees. \(Martin contends at law that the federal government cannot prescribe minimum wages for state employsaid that at $1 an hour working every day without two weeks off, an employee gets just $2,080 a year, while the poverty level is $3,000. In Texas, he said, “our great shame” is that 700,000 families, roughly 3,500,000 people, are below the poverty level, about a third of our citizens compared to 20% nationally. Yarborough figured that about 1,350,000 of these poor Texans are Mexican-Americans or Negroes, and the rest are Anglos, by which computation he sought to discredit the attempt of some people he said “try to salve their conscience” by saying, of the Texas poor, ” ‘That’s the Negroes and the Latinos.’ ” “Poverty,” the senator said, “hits everybody.” AS FOR FARM wages, Yarborough continued, only 1.5% of the nation’s farms are covered by the new law, but 40% of the farm workers are because of April 28, 1967 11
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.