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Lubbock Law Notes: March 2018

100+ Years Ago

A White People’s Country

Years ago, when the negroes began coming into this county in great numbers, The Independent said there would be trouble if the influx did not cease. That prediction is being verified, and we may as well admit that we are up against the race question. Serious trouble may not come for years, but it will come, because there has always been trouble between the races every [sic] since the emancipation where ever the negro race existed in large numbers with the whites.

Northwest Texas has ever been peculiarly a white people’s country with a few excepted points. Wichita Falls is overrun with them, Henrietta is becoming so, but with these exceptions there are but very few of them northwest of Fort Worth.

White people alone have settled this section, and whether right or wrong, their temper is to maintain it as a white man’s county. This spirit was manifested Monday when white men insisted that negroes employed on the new school building should give up their places to white labor. It seems hard to put a fellow out of a job just because he is a negro, but there is another side to the situation. If negroes should go into an unsettled portion of the state, establish their homes and build up a community exclusively of negro population, at the same time letting it be understood that they did not want any white people among them, what would we think of a white man who should “butt in” on them? We would say that he was foolish and need not expect anything better than to have a “steam roller” run over him. Tum this around and you have the situation here exactly. The negro is like strychnine. A little of him is sometimes very good medicine, but an overdose brings disastrous results. —Henrietta Independent.

—The Lubbock Avalanche, March 10, 1910

[Note: The 1910 population of Lubbock was 3,624, including five black residents (14 per cent of the population). Racist articles were routinely published in the local newspaper during this era.

75 Years Ago

Three Negroes on Jury Panel

Three negroes are on the 16-man grand jury panel to report at 10 o’clock the morning of April 5 in 99th district court—the first time such an occurrence has happened in Lubbock county.

Negroes have served on grand juries at Dallas and Houston and in a few other large cities of the South and the Southwest in recent months, after the United States Supreme Court under policies of the present administration began kicking back into lower courts laps cases involving negro defendants who had not been indicted by grand juries that included in their membership persons of their own race.

Lower courts have been butts of such decisions in an increasing wave since the famed Scottsboro, Ala., cases.

Jury Commissioners H.R. Swanner of Slaton, Clyde G. Tatum and Neil H..Wright, both of Lubbock, and C.U. James of Shallowater have named the following negroes to the 99th grand jury panel:

Tom Farris Garcia of 1520 Broadway, John Williams of 1603 Avenue B and John Green of 1709 Avenue A, all of Lubbock.

Several negro defendants who had been indicted in the 99th court recently succeeded in having indictments quashed when their counsel protested their convictions were in violation of Fourteenth amendment provisions. Judge Alton B. Chapman of the 110th judicial district, of Floydada, holding 99th court under appointment of the administrative judicial district presiding judge, granted the motions but ordered defendants remanded to custody against filing of new charges—which counsel had not expected.

Thus, counsel for the negroes probably did nothing more than delay legal machinery and possibly even lengthened the amount of time such defendants would have spent in jail. Four new charges were filed and new bonds required.

Oscar Beachem was one who figured in the cases here. The negro had been sentenced to 99 years in the penitentiary for an assault on Oran Wilson, Jr., and Miss Yvonne Westmoreland, students of Texas Technological college. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and remanded the case on a technicality, indicating at the same time its conviction the negro was guilty, and when his case came up for retrial counsel moved successfully for quashing the indictment.

Thus, the April grand jury, negroes on the panel will fulfill legal requirements as interpreted by the New Deal’s packed hand-picked court, and will reconsider the cases.

–Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, March 14, 1943

[Note: The United States Supreme Court decision referenced is Hill v. State of Texas (1942). Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone wrote, “Where . . . timely objection has laid bare discrimination in the selection of grand jurors, the conviction cannot stand because the Constitution prohibits the procedure by which it was obtained. Equal protection of the laws is something more than an abstract right. It is a command which the state must respect, the benefits of which ever person may demand. Not the least merit of our constitutional system is that its safeguards extend to all-the least deserving as well as the most virtuous.”]

50 Years Ago

Division Work of Extremists: “Conclusion” on Disorders Wrong

It is sad, indeed, that the extensive study of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders produced a “basic conclusion” which is wrong.

That is: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal. Reaction to last Summer’s disorders has quickened the movement and deepened the division.”

The Commission was, understandably, appalled by its review of the 1967 outbreaks and justifiably worried that 1968 might see an even “hotter Summer.” However, the Commission seems strangely unimpressed by massive evidence that the country actually is engaged in a movement to lessen division. The movement is slow, certainly, and has had setbacks.

Governmental and private efforts are extensive. Legislation at all levels has been approved and put into effect. Industry and business have joined in. So have millions of citizens, white and Negro. The latter have responded to the need for racial understanding and for an atmosphere of tolerance toward prejudices which simply cannot be removed overnight.

The Commission fails, for some unexplained reason, to recognize that principal blame for the “division” must be placed on extremists, Negro and white. They are the ones who are unwilling to accept the hard fact that hatred and violence aggravate, rather than improve, the social conditions which they profess to deplore.

These are minorities. Black power, black nationalists and guerrilla warfare agitators, for example, do not represent more than a fraction of the country’s Negroes. Most Negroes, while they wish for more rapid progress, do not fall for exhortations that “killing Whitey,” rioting, looting and “civil disobedience” are the only means of making gains. Gains are being made, not with headline-making violence but -through better education, professional and occupational upgrading, increased participation in politics and overall community activities, and so on.

Nor do the excesses of the Ku Klux Klan and other “hate groups,” with their cries for subjugation of citizens making up a tenth of the population, represent the thinking of a tremendous majority of the 90 per cent.

The Commission proposes a complete remaking of U.S. society, ranging through massive welfare increases, job creation, “dramatic” school improvements, monumental housing readjustments and the uplifting of all minorities.

However, it is painfully plain that the “unprecedented and drastic action” called for is not only far beyond the country’s financial means, but also is urged at a pace too rapid for practical application.

Meanwhile, society is forced to protect itself from fomenters of violence who are, incidentally, far more dangerous and far more coordinated than the Commission will admit. Riot-threatened communities are criticized for strengthening and training -their police forces to prevent and put down insurrection.

Preservation of law and order is an absolute requirement if a society is to tackle its problems effectively. The Commission deserves a heavy black mark for not having given that point, first, and full endorsement in its report.

–Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, March 2, 1968

[Note: The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the causes of the 1967 U.S. race riots and to provide recommendations for the future. Its results suggested that one main cause of urban violence was white racism and suggested that white America bore much of the responsibility for black rioting and rebellion. It called for creation of new jobs, construction of new housing, and for a stop to de facto segregation to wipe out the destructive ghetto environment. The report recommended government programs to provide needed services, to hire more diverse and sensitive police forces and, most notably, to invest billions of dollars in housing programs aimed at breaking up residential segregation. Johnson rejected the report.]

25 Years Ago

Code Problem Expected to be Answered Soon

The question of Texas Tech University’s right to enforce a human dignity student code versus the student’s right to freedom of speech should be answered “within days, not weeks,” said Pat Campbell, Tech’s general counsel.

If Tech’s code is found unconstitutional, university officials cannot enforce the punishment handed down to Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the Fashion Board student organization, Campbell said Tuesday.

Both groups—which violated the code by hosting an October party that reportedly ridiculed blacks and Hispanics—used the argument of free speech in their appeals.

“It looks like it (the code) is unconstitutional. It would be unconstitutional to enforce,” Campbell said. Regardless of how repugnant it is, free speech is protected by the First Amendment.”

The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, better known as the Pikes, was slapped with a year’s deferred suspension for its involvement in the party. The Fashion Board, which co-hosted the event, received at least a year of disciplinary probation.

But the punitive measures were placed on hold because of the constitutionality issue. Dean of Students Judith Henry announced Monday. Although the appeals committee had backed the punishment against the two groups, she said, the panel couldn’t address the cod’s constitutionality.

Campbell, who has been asked to make the determination, said he was consulting the state’s Attorney General’s Office and was reviewing related case law.

“I’ve asked the Attorney General’s Office for its opinion about the constitutionality of the enforcement of human dignity,” Campbell said. “Also, I’ve had a couple of conversations with a law school professor.”

Photographs reportedly taken at the October party revealed a Pike member dressed as a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon with two whites, costumed as black, kneeling at his feet.

The group reportedly ridiculed blacks by pretending to have large lips, wearing Afro-wigs and painting their faces black. Hispanics allegedly were portrayed as gang members.

—Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, December 2, 1992

[Note: According to an article in the Texas Tech University Daily dated Januay 13, 1993, sanctions against Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the Fashion Board were overturned. “General Counsel Pat Campbell said that through research by his office, the Attorney Generals office and two independent constitutional law professors, it was determined the sanctions could not be upheld because First Amendment rights were violated.”]  [Note: By 1990, Lubbock County’s population was 222,636, including 16,674 blacks (about 7.5 per cent of the population). Lubbock County’s population in 2016 was estimated at 303,137, with African Americans making up 7.8 per cent of the population]

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