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lifelong liberal pal, Bob Eckhardt. photo by Alan Pogue often-witty entry by writing, “The history of my life can be summed up by saying that I am devoted above all to two things: the Democratic Party and the University of Texas:’ He might have added liberalism to the list. After failing in his one run for elective office, Fath went on to be a political rainmaker and strategist behind the ‘5os and ‘6os Yarborough campaigns, and the early ‘7os near-misses of Sissy Farenthold for governor. “He could pick up the phone and call,” Farenthold recalls, and “I don’t care what county it was, he’d know somebody there. There would have been no campaign without Creekmore.” While Fath was working for a more liberal-minded Texas, fellow UT’ers Dixie and Mullinax joined Herman Wright in Houston, representing labor unions in what was becoming an industrial center. Unlike their British counterparts at Cambridge, who wandered off to communism, the Texas liberals mostly remained staunch New Dealers. In 1948, Wright linked up with Henry Wallace and became the Progressive Party candidate for governor. Dixie and Mullinax broke with their friend and supported the Democrats. Shortly thereafter, Eckhardt joined Dixie in his Houston practice. Maury Maverick Jr. practiced law in San Antonio and soon joined Fath in the political arena. Maury Junior, as he was called, became one of the state’s foremost civil liberties lawyers. Early on, he represented a black prizefighter, Spotty Harvey, in a challenge to the Texas prohibition against interracial boxing matches. Later he sued the state on behalf of John Stanford, secretary of the Texas Communist Party, attacking the search and seizure of Stanford’s library and correspondence in a case that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. After leaving the Legislature, he spent his later years writing somewhat incendiary columns for the San Antonio Express-News, inveighing against the Vietnam War and later speaking out about the plight of the Palestinians. Eckhardt, who died in 2001, ended up in both the Legislature and Congress, championing progressive populist causes and becoming a leading advocate for open beaches. \(See Gary Keith’s excellent biography, Eckhardt: There Once Was a Congressman Dixie was always a pre-eminent union lawyer. He successfully sued the notorious Texas Ranger, A.Y. Allee, on behalf of Pancho Medrano and others involved in the famous 1966-67 farm workers’ strike at La Casita Melons in Rio Grande City. On the political front, along with Frankie Randolph, Dixie was the driving force behind the Harris County Democrats, the first organization that truly took the battle to the Shivercrats. He was, as founding Observer editor Ronnie Dugger once said of him in these pages, “tough as cactus.” So was Mullinax. Not long into his career, Mullinax did what was almost unthinkable for the times: He filed a damage suit on behalf of a young black man against the police chief of Nacogdoches, alleging police brutality. The case was lost, of course, but it speaks volumes about these liberals’ tenacity; Mullinax later told me he always carried a firearm when he drove with his client back and forth across East Texas. These liberals practiced classic coalition politics. Among other accomplishments, they brought together elements of organized labor with historically disenfranchised blacks and Latinosto the point where, by 1962, it was no longer politically possible to attack the NAACP or the GI Forum, Hector Garcia’s Hispanic organization. When John Connally ran for governor in 1962, he became the first establishment Democrat to court and win segments of this coalitionreportedly at the urging of Johnson. One other thing to know about Fath, Eckhardt, Dixie, Mullinax and Randolph, along with another great liberal, Minnie Fisher Cunningham of New Waverley: They all helped found the Observer in 1954. While they never lived to see the Texas they’d worked toward since the 193os, Creekmore Fath and his liberal cohorts made many previously unthinkable things happen. \(And Fath got to witness the once-unfathomable election of Barack Obama in the state that could be broader and far more influential. It wouldn’t hurt the new liberal Texans to aim for the same kind of integrity and stubbornness that Fath and the “commie liberals” showed. Dave Richards is an attorney and author. AUGUST 21, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 21