The Segregation Filibuster of 1957 By Ronnie Dugger May 7, 1957 Austin A tall Latin man in a light blue suit and white shoes and yellow tie and yellow handkerchief was pacing around his desk on the Senate floor. It was 8 o’clock in the morning. An old Negro was brushing off the soft senatorial carpet in front of the president’s rostrum. Up in the gallery a white man stood with his back to the chamber, studying a panel of pictures of an earlier Senate. The Latin man was orating and gesturing in a full flood of energy, not like a man who had been talking to almost nobody for three hours and had another day and night to go. Why did they name Gonzalez Gonzalez if the name wasn’t honored in Texas at the time? he asked. Why did they honor Garza along with Burnet? “My own forebears in Mexico bore arms against Santa Anna. There were three revolutions against Santa Anna Texas was only one of its manifestations!” Did you know that Negroes helped settle Texas? That a Negro died at the Alamo? The angry crystal-voiced man stopped in his pacing and raised his arms to plead. “I seek to register the plaintive cry, the hurt feelings, the silent, the dumb protest of the inarticulate.” NO ONE in the capitol this week will deny that Henry Gonzalez registered it that through him and Sen. spelled the two talkers-in-chief during their 36-hour marathon on the Senate floor, the minorities were heard with eloquence and impact as never before in Texas. In the larger way the filibuster was the splitting up of the Texas culture into some of its varied ways of life. On one side of the Senate chamber stood South and far West Texans with more than a million Latin-Americans behind them Latin-Americans they think are threatened by general segregation bills which do not say they aim at Negroes. On the other side of the chamber were white East Texans with a million Negroes behind them, some of them restive for what the Supreme Court says are their rights. In the middle stood senators of moderate persuasion, some of whom voted with the minorities, some of whom voted with the East Texans then switched at the last minute to vote their personal convictions. Spelling Gonzalez and Kazen with long questions, readings from novels and essays, repeatings of the text of the bill, spelling-out of the words of the sections, were four other senators Charles Herring of Austin, Bruce Reagan of Corpus Christi, Hubert Hudson of Brownsville, and Frank Owen III of El Paso. Voting with these six senators against final passage of HB 231, by Rep. Virginia Duff of Ferris, were Carlos Ashley, Llano; Preston Smith, Lubbock; and Dorsey Hardeman, San Angelo. Smith and Hardeman voted to bring the bill up and cut off the filibuster when Gonzalez gave out. Early on the first day, Sen. William Fly, Victoria, explained that 10 of his 12 counties have started integration and said he was worried that the bill would reverse that. “We want to do this thing. It’s generally community-wide acceptance,” he said. Sen. R. A. Weinert, Seguin, asked Kazen if it were not so that the bills would “only foment litigation.” But when the vote 46 The Texas Observer came another day and two nights later, at 2:25 a.m., Fly, Weinert, and five other senators were not present. The talkers won their point for the week: Sen. Wardlow Lane, Center, who originally wanted to pass out all five bills before the Senate, except the one barring NAACP members from public employment, gave in when Gonzalez refused all blandishments and importunations and talked on into early Friday morning. Only HB 231 was passed; but Lane awaits more running room thii week, and if he gets it, another filibuster is certain unless a previous question cuts it off from the first. It was due Wednesday. Monday, Senate State Affairs passed out two more bills but some advocates of integration and segregation to register with the secretary of state. “I intend to fight every one of ’em to the last ditch every one of ’em. It’s the least I can do,” said Gonzalez after 22 hours and 2 minutes of continuous argument. Replied Kazen, who held the floor 15 hours without a break, slept two and a half hours, and returned to rest Gonzalez with long questions: “As long as you want to stay on your feet, I want to help you.” Sen. Wardlow Lane of Center, the Senate leader of the East Texans, explained very briefly that H.B. 231 permits school students to schools. It ought to be passed “if you trust your trustees or the local authority,” he said. “This places it on entirely the local level,” he said. As passed by the House, HB 231 also permits parents who object to integration to withdraw their children from the public schools, all other laws to the contrary notwithstanding, and says they will then get educational grants as provided by law. Kazen, the son of Lebanese immigrants and a member of the powerful Kazen family of Laredo, was dressed in a dark blue suit, red tie with a gold clasp, and black shoes as he started the fight Wednesday morning at 11:16 with a pre-lunch statement of 44 minutes. He said the bill was meant to deter integration and circumvent the U.S. Constitution. Sen. Dorsey Hardeman of San Angelo, who presided over the filibuster, passed its early hours reading the Magna Charta . Gonzalez and Kazen started talking Spanish to each other. Discussing the “psychological qualifications” to be used by the school boards as a test for pupil assignment, Kazen said: “El leon juzga a todos de su condicion.” \(The lion judges everybody Sen. Jimmy Phillips, Angleton, objected to using “that kind of language” on the floor, and Hardeman ruled Senate debate has to be in English. At that point, Gonzalez turned to Macauley’s Essays \(an 1878 edition presented to Frederick S. Healy in 1881 by Cardinal Manning as a prize for mathematics Queen’s English,” Gonzalez assured the Senate. It is written in “those choice words that only the English can preserve in their imagination . .” At ten of eight Kazen for the first time drew from his book-littered desk The Voice at the Back Door by Elizabeth Spencer. Opening it up, he told the Senate, “This’ll read like a novel, because it is a novel.” The passages he chose dealt with 411111.11111111111111111110fr Akhr.