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Pecan shellers worked up to 15 hours a day in hundreds of shelling sheds on San Antonio’s West Side. Pho to by Ru sse ll Lee. \(In s t itu te o f Texan Cu ltu Donald Henderson met with Homer Brooks [Emma Tenayuca’s husband at the time and former Communist Party candidate for Texas governor]. When I saw Homer I was here in the city. When he came in and already had the statement typed out to remove me from the strike leadership, I did not buckle. I did not feel like buckling down, but, on the other hand, if it meant more support .. . I knew that we had not developed the leadership to take care of the negotiations and I would have needed help in that. I knew that I was a good organizer, but when it came to negotiating, this was something else. So George Landrum came in and took over. There were at least seven or eight hundred workers who joined the union immediately. So I continued to write all the circulars, met with all the picket captains when Landrum took over. The pecan workers strike was the culmination of activity for jobs, for a much broader program. As to whether it was an authorized strike [the CIO said it was partially authorized], that would be just like Henderson [to say it was partially authorized], some Yankee coming down here. Did they ever succeed in organizing the sharecroppers? How could there ever be an authorized strike? There was no CIO here in San Antonio. There was only an American Federation of Labor. The CIO came in after the strike and after we had organized it here. So how could the CIO have ever authorized a strike and ‘an organization that it had never even lent one blessed dime to organize? And we did raise placards for a minimum wage. This was why the strike gained prominence. Incidentally, a lot of those statements that were attributed to me, I don’t know where they were picked up. “My blood or something or other.” Believe me, I was so careful at demonstrations to see that we didn’t have anybody provoke the police. [See box, page 13.] I think there was a lot of support for the pecan workers. I think that little book [The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio by Selden Menefee and Orin Cassmore, published by the WPA] is very good evidence that there was support and concern. There was a woman named Consuelo Gosnell, who worked for the Relief Office, and there was Mrs. Clare Green [county social work supervisor]. Some of these people were very conscientious. Remember this so many people were scared. How many people would have stepped out and helped? There were some ministers. There were a few others who stuck their heads all the way out, including Maury Maverick. But others here, although their sympathies were there, they would not stick their heads out. And perhaps I do deserve some credit for sticking my head out. I have been asked if I had been afraid. I said, “No. If I had been afraid I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have gone out.” I felt enough pressure from my family. I was not afraid at the auditorium riot [in 1939]. We held a meeting before that auditorium riot, and there were some of us who brought up the fact one person was Elizabeth Benson as to whether we should go on to the meeting. There had been no support. The Soviet Union had signed the Non-Aggression Pact a few months earlier. Not one newspaper in San Antonio supported our right to hold a meeting. What I expected was just a small meeting with a few people and that was all. When I think back this trying to explain the SovietGerman pact, it was impossible. I read the Duclos Article assessing the situation. I read it quite a few times, and I still could not understand it. The three leaders against us one was Jewish, Clem Smith a photographer; Namy, a Lebanese I think; and Father Valenta. Clem Smith might have been a veteran. I don’t know why someone like Clem Smith was not fighting anti-Semitism. Namy was a businessman and foreign-born. He said he was American and by choice. Father Valenta was an Italian. I met an Italian here who thought Mussolini was doing a wonderful job. You had F4ther Coughlin up in the Midwest. The Church finally had to silence him. I felt at times that some of these people had lost sight of their roles and their origins in their fighting for Americanism and their idea that this was communism. What we were fighting for as an organization was really freedom of speech, and that was all. The person who was mayor at the time was Maury Maverick. I never knew this until I talked to Maury Maverick, Jr., but the fellow who was Chief of Police [Ray Ashworth] had every intention of actually reorganizing the police. Maverick would have given us a good city government if he had been reelected. The fellow who was in charge at that time, who escorted me, I think, was a Quaker. Ideas NOW WE HAVE the general opinion that the New Deal and the legislation that followed had for a measure answered the problems and forever eased any idea of socialism in our country. I would say that I am a socialist, but with many, many qualifications. I cannot believe, for instance, that you can look up on a problem and solve every economic problem for everybody. Look at the situation in Lebanon. Is this actually just a political problem? I would say it’s a deep religious problem rooted in years of conflict. And for us to think that a Camp David agreement would solve the problem. . . . It is such a superficial approach to the problem. I have never looked upon socialism or upon social democracy as coming about suddenly as the result of a crisis. I look upon it as THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11