Tag Archives: Discrimination

Today in Texas History – July 27

From the Annals of Voting Rights –   In 1940, Lonnie Smith, an African-American dentist from Houston, was denied a ballot to vote in a Democratic primary because of his race.  The stated rationale was that the parties ran their primary elections and that as a private entity, the Democratic Party of Texas could decide its membership and thus determine who could and could not vote in its primary elections.  Of course, Texas was a one-party state at the time (much like now) and winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to winning office in all but a very few instances.  The ensuing legal battle lasted four years and resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision – Smith v. Allwright , 321 U.S. 649 (1944) in which Smith was represented by future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.  The Supreme Court overturned the Texas law that authorized the Democratic Party to set its internal rules which called for whites only primaries.  The court held that it was an unconstitutional violation of the equal protection clause of the  14th Amendment for the state to delegate its authority over elections to the Democratic Party in order to allow discrimination to be practiced. This ruling affected all other states where the party used the white primary rule and was an important step in opening the ballot box to citizens of all races.

Photo of Lonnie Smith

Texas GOP Ready to Play the Gay Bashing Card One More Time

The Houston Chronicle gets an early jump on the 2017 Legislative session by looking at proposed GOP legislation that would legalize discrimination against gay Texans based on one’s religious beliefs.

Get ready for another round in Texas, too. For state Rep. Matt Krause, a Fort Worth Republican, the fight here extends to legislation next session that would “supplement the state’s existing law to allow business owners to refuse services to people whose lifestyles clash with their religious beliefs,” as reported by the Austin American-Statesman’s Tim Eaton.

Except Krause isn’t only after a law, which would require simple majorities in both chambers and Gov. Greg Abbott’s approval. He wants to send the question to voters as a proposed constitutional amendment — the first time they will vote on something remotely related to gay rights since 2005. Krause has to clear a high bar first, though. He needs to win the support of two-thirds of the House and Senate to get it on the ballot. Still, the issue is that important to him, Krause told Eaton.

“I wanted to put it in the constitution to make it even stronger,” he said. “It is still something I think is very important.”

Should Krause get the election he desires, it will create some crucial challenges and opportunities all around that may well define the political contours of this fight in Texas for years to come.

Red supports the proposed amendment.  Red is anxious to discriminate against numerous of his fellow citizens who have raised Red’s holy ire.  Red’s religious beliefs will prohibit him from providing services to left-handed owners of dogs that weigh more than 50 lbs (the dogs that is), drivers who fail to follow the “every other car” rule,  anyone who claims soccer is boring, stockbrokers, people who fart in elevators just before exiting, Rep. John Culberson, Dallas Cowboys fans, lake trash, Bluetooth cell phone users, anyone appearing on a “Best Dressed” list, several of Red’s in-laws and a few cousins, Aquarians, ethnic Albanians, and high-school science teachers.  There are probably a few more, but this is a good start.

Today in Texas History – August 13

From the Annals of Discrimination –  In 1906, an alleged attack by soldiers from the  black  25th Infantry Division stationed at Fort Brown resulted in the largest summary dismissals US Army history.  The troops fresh from duty in the Phillippines arrived in Brownsville on July 28.  . The First Battalion, minus Headquarters and Company A, arrived at Brownsville.  The town greeted them racial hostility and discrimination with many local businesses refusing to serve them.  After reports of an attack on a white woman on the night of August 12,  Maj. Charles W. Penrose, after consultation with Mayor Frederick Combe, declared an early curfew the following day to avoid trouble with the increasing tension.  Sometime around midnight, a locol bartender was killed in a shootout that also critically wounded a police officer.   Some townspeople blamed the troops and made unverified claims that the soldiers were running through the streets shooting.

A series of investigations followed, but no individual soldiers were ever identified as having committed criminal acts.  Maj. Augustus P. Blocksom, of the army’s Southwestern Division, found that the soldiers were uncooperative and recommended dismissal. The troops for their part denied any knowledge of the shooting. Texas Ranger Cap. William J. McDonald arrested 12 men but none were ever indicted. Inspector General Ernest A. Garlington claimed there was a “conspiracy of silence”  and urged dismissal of the men. On November 5 President Theodore Roosevelt summarily discharged “without honor” all 167 enlisted men who had been stationed at Fort Brown.

A Senate investigation of the matter instigated by Roosevelt rival Sen. Joseph B. Foraker (R-Ohio) resulted in conflicting majority and minority reports and no action for the men who had been summarily dismissed.   When some of the men reapplied for enlistment, Roosevelt was forced to appoint a board of retired army officers to review the applications. After interviewing about half the applicants, the Court of Military Inquiry approved only fourteen of the men for re-enlistment.

The matter lay dormant until 1972,  when  Rep. Augustus Hawkins (D-California) took up the cause of the wrongly dismissed soldiers. The Nixon administration concurred and awarded honorable discharges without back pay. Dorsie Willis, the only surviving veteran, received a $25,000 pension.