dump be closed, that Wheeler Street be rerouted around TSU, that Negroes be treated the same as whites in discipline cases at schools, that the war on poverty be given a chance, that the police treat Negroes the same as whites. “Do you think what happened at TSU would have ever happened at Rice, the University of Houston, or the University of Texas?” one young Negro man asked the Observer. What would happen, he went on, if several hundred policemen pumped several hundred rounds of bullets into a University of Texas dormitory without first attempting to evacuate students who were not involved in the shooting? The same sense of damaged self-esteem, of being treated unfairly because of race, recurred in other questions raised by Negroes: the Beechnut Street compost plant for trash and garbage disposal was closed down when residents of a prosperous white neighborhood protested the odor. Yet the same complaints of Negroes in Sunnyside, where a large dump is operated by the city, have fallen largely on deaf ears. An incinerator will begin burning some of the dump’s refuse this summer, but that will cause odor, too, and much of the trash and garbage will still be placed on the ground near homes. And some of the refuse that had been going to the Beechnut plant, before it was closed, is now going to the Sunnyside dump. The Beechnut plant was fenced, protecting white children from possible injury; at Sunnyside last month a young Negro boy drowned in a pit in the unfenced dump, which adjoins two playgrounds. Why, the question is often asked, is Wheeler Street to be rerouted at the University of Houston, a few blocks away, but not at TSU, whose campus it bisects, thus disrupting a “campus atmosphere,” as one young man expressed it. And so the questions run. THERE ARE those in the white community who agree with Negroes that Houston must face its race relations situation more squarely. Jack Murray, head of the Houston Council on Human Relations, believes that “Houston’s basic problem is that there has long been a latent racism within the very fabric of its society that has only lately been exposed by recent turns of events. This is seen in a refusal to recognize the Negro’s desire to actualize his humanity.” Rice University sociologist Dr. William McCord concurs, saying that the greatest problems, are, in this order, jobs \(not unemployment so much as underemployment; Negroes need access to better sorts including adequate streets, street lighting, sanitation services, list, the police.” McCord wryly concedes that the police have moved up in the “ratings” a bit since TSU, in the view of many Negroes here. MrS. Rhona Wilber, who is white, teaches at all-Negro Wheatley High School in Houston’s “Bloody Fifth” ward and is Austin Houston’s mayor Louie Welch, in the wake of the Texas Southern University uprising, said he had not thought racial tensions in Houston had reached such a peak that it would lead Negro students -to fire weapons at white policemen from Don Adams their dormitory windows. Yet, in Austin on March 21, a Houston man had predicted the terrible coming of the Negro wrath. Bernard Friedberg, South Texas regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, and a white friend of the black cause, predicted the uprising when he talked to a small group at the University of Texas Hillel Foundation in Austin. With him was Rep. Curtis Graves of Houston, one of the three Negroes who served in the recent session of the state legislature. Young Negroes in Houston, Friedberg predicted that night, were willing to “set the torch to communities until something is done” about segregation practices. And the same turmoil bubbling in Houston’s cauldron of emotions and human relations could boil over in Austin, he said. Graves said integration in Texas is a joke. He said there is no integration, but only lip service by “the Establishment.” Graves said something that night which he asked me not to repeat. “It would hurt what I’m trying to do,” he said. But a day or two later he was quoted by the Daily Texan, University of Texas student newspaper, as making the same remark doing work on a master’s degree at TSU. Mrs. Wilber requested the Wheatley assignment because of her conviction that Negroes and whites must increase their personal contacts across racial lines if better understanding is to be achieved. She is concerned about the attitude of the school board and administration s which have been reluctant to desegregate Houston’s schools. There is criticism by many persons in the city of the legal fees that have been spent by Houston’s-schools to delay desegregation. Often bond issues involve the question of whether the improvements called for will have the effect of maintaining racially separate schools, by enlarging or building schools deep in Negro neighborhoods and neglecting those in areas where white and Negro families live nearest each other. About 60 of Houston’s 9,000 teachers are in integrated situations. At first, Mrs. Wilber was regarded with suspicion by her students, all of whom are Negro. But after the first few months at Wheatley she has been accepted wholeheartedly by most students and enjoys their confidence. On the day after the TSU in another public speech. He said, in effect, that someone would have to be “hit upside the head with a two-by-four” before discrimination against Negroes ended in the state. The torch Friedberg spoke of blazed at TSU two months later. “There is a growing group of Negro youth who are increasingly dissatisfied,” Friedberg said. They are “willing to burn to see if they can get something done.” A similar feeling is likely growing -among Austin’s Negro youth, he added. Both Friedberg and Graves criticized Houston city and school officials for their blindness. “The mayor of Houston closes his eyes to it [the growing dissatisfaction among Negro youth] and says he has no problem,” Friedberg said. “Watts had to burn before they [Negroes] got any community action. There may be some in Austin who would do it [that is, set the -torch] just to prove to people things aren’t as they seem.” Graves said the problem was not a Negro problem, but a minority group problem. In so saying, he was speaking to sympathetic ears, for the members of Hillel are Jewish people primarily concerned with the constant battle of preserving the rights of minority groups. Some of them have been jailed in the Deep South in helping the Negro civil rights cause. Graves slammed Houston because only “money buys the vote” in the “silk stocking district,” and the school districts discriminate in teacher hiring practices. disorder, Mrs. Wilber told the Observer, many of the students at the school were quite upset, a number of them in tears, about what had happened. In a speech class of Mrs. Wilber’s, 20 of 24 students have close relatives at TSU. She decided to conduct a discussion of the occurrences. “Nobody cares about what happens to Negroes,” one boy said, adding that when four Negro children were killed while attending Sunday school in Birmingham no one seemed very upset. The boy then burst into tears, saying “I know a white cop’s been killed and why should I care?” “I almost lost control of the class,” Mrs. Wilber says. She recalls that, after the Chicago riots last year, several students came to her, asking “Do white people really feel that way about us that we’re dirty?” “This was all new to them,” she explains. Other students reported rumors in her class the day after the TSU outburst: that several TSU students had been taken to Ben Taub hospital with dog bites, that June 9, 1967 7 `Willing To Set the Torch’
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