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Tommy Mullins `The Lip’ performing his specialty Lipscomb takes on the black establishment again By Sean Mitchell Dallas On a chilly October evening early in the campaign, Al Lipscomb paced the floor of his South Dallas Information Center, phone in hand, trying to get a call through to George Allen. With the gas cut off it was cold in the room, and he wore an army fatigue jacket over his turtleneck. He had just spent half an hour calling city service agencies trying to locate some food for a large black woman who walked into his office and said she had six children to feed over the weekend and not a cent in her pocket. Most of the agencies were closed; Lipscomb finally reached one of the county commissioners at his home and got the backing to loan the woman ten dollars, which he then fished out of his pocket. No sooner had the woman thanked him and left than a campaign volunteer entered with the news that George Allen, the former black city councilman, had gone on the radio that afternoon announcing his support for prominent Republican Joe Kirven. The Texas chairman of the Black Committee to Re-Elect the President would be Lipscomb’s chief opponent in the special election Dec. 9 to fill Allen’s vacated city council seat, but he hadn’t counted on Allen’s jumping on Kirven’s bandwagon. In fact, Allen had promised Lipscomb that he would remain strictly neutral. Bristling at the news, Lipscomb clutched the phone and bent his wiry frame forward, listening for an answer on the other end. As a few of the Center’s volunteer’s crowded around, W. O. \(Beknow it’s not too damn easy to get in touch with Uncle George, but we’ve got his unlisted number.” McKinney then proceeded to recount the time several years ago when he had called Allen for help: “I had this escaped convict in my house who had come to me and wanted to turn Mitchell, a former editor of the Iconoclast in Dallas, is now a freelance writer. himself in. There was an all-points bulletin out for him and all that. So I called George to see what he could do about getting him safe passage down to the jail. George chewed my ass out for waking him up and told me to call the police in the morning. After that I came here when I needed some kind of help.” When George’s voice finally came across the line it was sweet and tentative: “Yes?” “Hey, George, this is Lip.” “Well hello Lip, how you doin’?” “George, I’ve got to ask you somethin’.” “Why sure Lip, of course. What is it?” “George, you know you told me after you resigned that you were goin’ to remain impartial in this thing you were just goin’ to hold some town meetin’s for all the interested candidates and like that .. . well, we never had those meetin’s, George, and now I hear you’ve been on the radio supportin’ ‘Joe Kirven, and you sure are puttin’ me at a great disadvantage, do you understand, George?” Allen was at once contrite and evasive. His, high voice seemed to rise, “Hey, Lip, now you know you’re so far ahead of that man . . . you shouldn’t be worried, ‘heh, heh, heh. I promise I won’t be sayin’ any more. . . .” With the conversation bogged down in pleasantries at the other end, Lipscomb rang off with strained politeness. It was a moment of truth for him, and he tried to mask his anger at finding out what he already knew but was hoping to avoid: once again he was up against George Allen and the South Dallas Ministers. And he had a lot to be worried about if he expected to beat Joe Kirven to the city council. AS A FULL-time unofficial ombudsman for the black ghetto where he grew up, Lipscomb is popular in the streets, but to the gaggle of Dixieland preachers who make up the influential Ministerial Alliance he is anathema a bad-mannered upstart who doesn’t play by the rules. The ministers are tight with Uncle George, and the ministers pretty much tell the people who vote how to vote, and then they drive them to the polls in the church buses. The young people, the indigent, the jobless, the mothers without food for their children, the down-andouters Lipscomb helps every day, for the most part, don’t go to the polls at election time. After years of work as one of the leading petitioners for single-member districts, Lipscomb went down to more than a 2-1 defeat to Allen in the District 6 race last spring. Now that Allen has bailed out of his $50-a-week council seat only five’ months into his term and into a $24,000a-year justice of the peace appointment, LipsComb has another shot at the job. But the old guard black leadership \(“Bless their hearts, they have their battle scars and they ambush, as determined as ever, to head him off at the pass. At the heart of District 6, among the fried catfish stands, honky tonks, and weathered clapboard houses that surround the State Fairgrounds, a visitor walking the streets would have a hard time believing that a Republican could stand a chance here. But such is the unlikely complexion of politics in South Dallas. The established leadership has long been safely conservative. The district is one of the city’s poorest, and it is about 75 percent black. Just a few blocks from the Fairgrounds Lipscomb runs his ombudsman’s office in one of those small clapboard houses, set off from the. rest by a few strings of pennants, the kind that decorate gasoline stations. The office is functionally titled the South Dallas Information Center. It provides assistance to people who need to November 14, 1975 11