THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31 .”-`%!*00, wt having grown up in a segregated society and having had doors shut and opportunities denied me, the only guarantees I havelad were federal laws. It was a Supreme Court ruling that said schools would be integrated. The local entity says everything is fine. Give them the secondhand books. The federal law says you have a right to public accommodations and a right to go and come as you please, equal opportunity in employment and housing. The local mores and rules were different. They said “No, you’re fine, you stay over there.” Federal funds allowed us to get our streets paved, to get some esthetic feel of what America really is in our neighborhoods. Local mores, had a totally different perspective on it. And we couldn’t do anything about that. So if you want to say that I’m willing to trade situations . . . now I realize that at the same time it was good for us it was creating problems on the other side. There were people saying “They shouldn’t get this because it’s what we want.” But that’s not what was right and best for the country. So I think that in the sense that there should be certain basic notions that should be uniform across the country in terms of what this country means to every citizen who lives here, and that’s where the Federal government comes in. There should be certain things that are germane to the state of Texas, germane to the state of Oklahoma or any other state that should be dealt with there in term of their own economy, their agricultural products, their ports, their water sources, whatever. I don’t want to come on as a person who wants big government, what I’m talking about is a national level of . awareness. In preparing for this interview I talked to someone who said you are not as liberal as one might suspect. Being a former CETA administrator who is black and running against Phil Gramm you’re going to be type-cast. That’s unfortunate. Most people think black people are liberal and all these things. I don’t know whether I’m liberal or moderate or conservative or progressive, whatever. Fiscally, I’m very conservative. You can ask my wife. You can ask the people who worked for me at CETA. I don’t believe in wasting money. I don’t believe in spending something unneccessarily. But I do believe that if there is a legitimate need you take care of it. . . . And so I’d like to see a situation where the least of us, the person with the least amount going for him, can breathe a breath of free air, can have some hope, some source of happiness and enjoyment. And I would hate to see that put merely on economic circumstances. “While I’m thinking of it I want to tell you that the young men who own this place donated this room and this coffee.” He jingled his pocket change incessantly and stayed at White’s side, introducing him to the police chief, the justice of the peace, the county attorney, the county clerk. “I just stopped by to see if there’s anything I could do,” one of them said. “Yeah,” White answered. “We need you to tell all your friends to vote for me. Don’t leave any indecision. Tell them whose side you’re on.” On the way out, two waitresses asked for White’s autograph. As we got into the car I saw Judge Cranek put the red and white “Come Meet Mark White” sign in the back of his pickup truck. He drove off alone. At La Grange a lawyer had set up a barbecue for White at a park. There were three kinds of beer, five kinds of salad, barbecued beef, white bread, and cake. Yellow light bulbs were strung from the trees. When White began to make his little speech, about 50 people were smiling expectantly. “This is what everybody’s been waiting for,” the woman next to me said. “A raise in salary,” a teacher whispered to a friend. “The governor can’t do it all,” White told his La Grange supporters. “As governor I’ll be looking to you for a lot of advice and help.” We left La Grange in the dark. The night had turned chilly and the moon was almost full. White had to catch a plane at a rural airport for Houston, where he was to address a group of black voters at nine p.m. When he got out of the car, he looked in at us and said, “Well, I’ve enjoyed the whole day.” He held his hand up and smiled warmly. “See y’all!” A few minutes later the engine of a little plane cranked and its propellers beghan to whirl. It taxied down the runway into the darkness. Then it zipped by us and up into the starry night. Mark White was on his way to Houston. Trailing White . . from page 6
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