THE TEXAS “A shining city is perhaps all the President sees from the portico of the White House. . . . But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers. It’s an old story. It’s as old as our history.” New York Governor Mario Cuomo, July 17, 1984. BY DAVE DENISON photos by Alan Pogue Austin FROM KEMP STREET IN Montopolis you can see, in wide panorama, the features of down town Austin. You can see the Capitol, the banks, the office towers, and farther to the north the clock tower of the University of Texas. The center of 13 SERVER November 20, 1987 A Journal of Free Voices $1.50 commerce and power is seven miles to the northwest, as the grackle flies, but in Montopolis you can’t help but feel you have come farther than that. You have come to a social and cultural escarpment, where the climate of things has changed suddenly. You are in a community that has lived its life in contrast; it is a place where the War on Poverty came home in the 1960s, only a few hundred yards from the exclusive Austin Country Club, with its fenced-in golf course. “We knew we had no business crossing that fence,” says Oswaldo Guerrero, recalling his childhood in Montopolis. “It was a contrast. There’s always been a contrast.” It is a chilly day in November and the sky is overcast. Down at the end of Kemp Street a woman is gathering wood from the side of the road. She is using a rake to pull the sticks and logs out of the underbrush, and her two small children are loading the wood into the trunk of a powder-blue Olds Cutlass. The distant skyscrapers and all the wealth and resources they stand for are part of another world. Today a woman in Montopolis is making do with what she can. People here are not unfamiliar with the indignities that go with being residents of a forgotten city. Not far away from the place on Kemp where the woman and her children scrounge through debris is the site where the city of Austin used to dump its garbage. In the 1960s Montopolis residents grew restive about the dump being in their backyard. “We pay taxes just like the rest, and we want that dump out of here,” one Hector Ortiz told the city’s \(Continued on Page 61
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