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Some Historic San Antonio Black History – Part 2

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According to George Nelson, slaves were sold at the Alamo, the Cradle of Texas Liberty, during the Civil War. In quoting an Express News article in 1917 a Captain Bill Edgar said slaves were sold on a “Platform” which was “one of the old slave markets where Negroes were put up for auction.” Captain Bill Edgar was a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, a Ku Klux Klan-type group in the 1850s that came before the 1866 Klan.

On November 1, 1917, the U.S. army held court-martials at the chapel at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The military court tribunals indicted the men of the 24th Black Infantry for participating in the so-called “Houston Riot,” Nineteen soldiers were hanged for trying to help a black woman being brutalized by Houston Police, and the need to protect themselves from white harassment and mobs. White officers who faced courts-martial were released, and none of the white civilians were brought to trial for their crimes. Pastor Isaiah Kelly delivered their last rites. Ironically, Pastor Kelly, a black Baptist preacher, would later be exposed as working with the KKK by W.E. Dubois in the Crisis magazine. The brave men were killed by a military kangaroo court, hanged in the back of the Ft. Sam Houston golf course.

Charles Bellinger, a black leader in San Antonio, basically was able to decide who would be mayor in San Antonio. Bellinger was a black political boss and according to the Texas State Historical Association, “Bellinger entered local politics in 1918 and, with the aid of black ministers, developed support among black voters for John W. Tobin, who served as sheriff and mayor, and later for the Quin family. In return the city government provided the black neighborhood with paved and lighted streets, plumbing, a meeting hall, and a branch library, as well as improved recreation facilities and schools. Black political participation set San Antonio apart from most Texas and southern cities and stimulated the state legislature to require a white primary in the 1920s, a move that led to court decisions in the 1930s and 1940s declaring such voter exclusion unconstitutional.”

It should be noted that San Antonio Mayors Charles Quin (1877–1960) and his political opponent Fontaine Maury Maverick (1895–1954) were ideological different in that Quin was a KKK sympathizer while Maverick was a liberal. However, both of them were racists as Maverick once called Charles Bellinger a “black baboon.” Unfortunately, some leftist groups refuse to recognize the racism of so-called liberals or socialists like writers Mark Twain, Jack London, and others. Even though Quin was a KKK sympathizer he was supported by black political boss Charles Bellinger. Bellinger would be called an Uncle Tom by NAACP president Harold Tarver for doing so. Maverick, the so called liberal, would eventually team up with segregationist Walter McAllister, who would later become mayor, and plotted to send Bellinger to prison. Bellinger was convicted for tax evasion and sent to the federal prison at Leavenworth. However, Mayor Quin would plot with the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, which resulted in Bellinger being pardoned.  Hence, black political power was manipulated by a conservative African American, a racist KKK mayor, and a racist liberal. It was a very trying time for blacks in San Antonio.

The Municipal Auditorium was segregated as was the San Antonio Library for many years all the way to 1955. A rope was placed down the center isle by the San Antonio Fire Department which separated “white” from “colored” ad was clearly marked with signs attached to the ropes. The Majestic Theatre was segregated for many years with blacks and dark-skinned Mexicans having to go around to the back of the theatre on College Street. The only place they could set was on the upper balcony which was often referred to as “N” heaven. San Pedro Park was segregated as well and only on Thursdays could blacks go to the amusement park. This was referred to as “Colored Day.”

During the era of segregation, blacks needed places to stay while driving across the country. Segregated restaurants, restrooms, gas stations, hotels, and other facilities were designated “white only.” As a result, a book was published called “The Negro Motorist Green-Book.” This book listed places where blacks could utilize segregated facilities and San Antonio had at least 3 places listed: one at 1216 Dawson Street, 127 N. Mesquite Street (near St Paul’s Methodist Church) and the other at 245 Canton Street. The book was written by Victor H. Green, a black entrepreneur and available in 1941.

The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), after organizing a Black Student Union at San Antonio College in 1968-1969, went on to organize all of the colleges and universities in San Antonio.  The organization was heavily influenced by the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, adopted Black Panther survival programs, and sold the Panther paper on street corners in downtown San Antonio. San Antonio SNCC was both Black Panther and SNCC.  During this period, Rev. Claude Black, of Mt Zion First Baptist Church, supported SNCC, and led some of the first protests and marches for Martin Luther King in San Antonio when King was still alive. Rev. Black can be credited with the first protest march in support of Martin Luther King in 1965. Later, activists would lead a march in 1968 and 1969 from the “Eastside Y” to Mt Zion First Baptist Church. These would the first marches in protest of the death of King and for Civil Rights. In 1972, the first memorial marches would be organized by Rev. R, A. Callies. In 1972, the initial marches were very small, but former SNCC members and community organizations organized support to increase the numbers for the memorial marches. Thanks primarily to the organizing efforts of former SNCC-Panther members, and the support of the community, it became the largest march in the country, and is now an event that is both a celebration march and a protest march. Black Lives Matter and other protest groups have participated recently and in the past.

In 1969, SNCC organized a large protest after the beating death of Bobby Joe Phillips by San Antonio Police. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide but no officer was ever indicted. SNCC organized the First Free Breakfast Program in San Antonio, modeled after the Black Panthers for Self Defense, at Antioch Baptist Church on Walters Street. The program was shut down as a result of an FBI program of illegal spying and the work of a black informant photographer who wanted to steal the project. Eventually, the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) adopted the free breakfast program, as did other schools, not only in San Antonio but across the country. This was done to prevent black activists from feeding the poor and educating them on the real history of America.

In 1974, SNCC organized the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC) in San Antonio and sent three representatives to attend the conference at Howard University and the protest at the White House. The protest was to support the liberation struggles in Southern Africa and freedom for Nelson Mandela. The FBI, through an illegal program called COINTELPRO, tried to sabotage a local Catholic institution by threatening Sister Mary Boniface at the Healy Murphy Learning Center. They forced her to cancel the showing of an African Liberation film. The FBI also used an informant at KAPE radio, the program director, to sabotage the films. In 1975 or 1976, the San Antonio SNCC lead organizer resigned and a few years later the organization officially disbanded as the last Black Panther Chapter and the last SNCC chapter in the United States. After the main organizer resigned, the organization considered itself a Black Panther Chapter, and changed it outlook regarding women in the movement, fully supporting women to be members of the group. Although there were women members in SNCC in 1969, some in the movement were concerned that if a woman were killed it might mean a death blow to the entire organization. Hence, women were often discouraged from joining. However, all women would be welcomed after 1975.  It would eventually be recognized as a Panther chapter. Members of the group would go on to fight for civil and human rights by creating other organizations.

In 1990, Frontline 2000, a civil and human rights organization in San Antonio, was responsible for securing the Texas Martin Luther King State Holiday by threatening a boycott and civil action in court if a Super Bowl was allowed to be played in Houston.  The National Football League had already gone on record that they would not play in Arizona unless that state honored Dr. King. The San Antonio delegation headed by Rick Greene and Mario Marcel Salas approached the Texas Speaker of the House at the time , Gib Lewis, and demanded that Texas honor Martin Luther King or a boycott would take place and a suit would be filed in court. Only a few states had not honored Dr. King at the time and Texas was one of them.  At the meeting at the Texas State Capital, the speaker pledged that the bill would come out of committee. The bill was being held up by the Calendars Committee of the House which was headed by Pete Laney. Pete Laney was criticized for holding up the bill, but the Speaker ordered the bill out of committee. Hence, Texas created an official state holiday in honor of Dr. King. Rick Greene was the former SNCC-Panther activist that came up with the winning tactic to get Texas to honor Dr. King.

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Actor/Comedian Kevin Hart Suffers Car Crash Injuries

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Not Seeking Re-election

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In an editorial on Rep. Will Hurd’s page he announced it’s time to serve his country in a different way.

August 1, 2019 Editorial (https://hurd.house.gov)

There are many reasons why I love America. I have learned over my three terms in Congress, by representing people that voted for me, didn’t vote for me or didn’t vote at all, that America is better than the sum of its parts. Serving people of all walks of life has shown me that way more unites our country than divides us. This understanding has allowed me to win elections many people thought I couldn’t, especially when the political environment was overwhelmingly against my party.

In this experiment called America we strive to create a more perfect union. Our founding principle of a right to free speech has given us the freedom to disagree, and the resulting competition of ideas has produced policies tackling a variety of problems. As has happened many times throughout our history, we now face generational defining challenges at home and abroad.

We are in a geopolitical competition with China to have the world’s most important economy. There is a global race to be the leader in artificial intelligence, because whoever dominates AI will rule the world. We face growing cyberattacks every day. Extreme poverty, lack of economic opportunity and violence in Central America is placing unbearable pressure on our borders. While Congress has a role in these issues, so does the private sector and civil society.

After reflecting on how best to help our country address these challenges, I have made the decision to not seek reelection for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.

I left a job I loved in the CIA as an undercover officer to meet what I believed to be a need for new leadership in Congress on intelligence and national security matters. I wanted to help the Intelligence Community in a different way by bringing my knowledge and experience to Congress. I’m leaving the House of Representatives to help our country in a different way. I want to use my knowledge and experience to focus on these generational challenges in new ways. It was never my intention to stay in Congress forever, but I will stay involved in politics to grow a Republican Party that looks like America.

As the only African American Republican in the House of Representatives and as a Congressman who represents a 71% Latino district, I’ve taken a conservative message to places that don’t often hear it. Folks in these communities believe in order to solve problems we should empower people not the government, help families move up the economic ladder through free markets not socialism and achieve and maintain peace by being nice with nice guys and tough with tough guys. These Republican ideals resonate with people who don’t think they identify with the Republican Party. Every American should feel they have a home in our party.

While I have 17 months left in my term, I’m very proud of the last 55. There were times when it was fun and times when it wasn’t. When people were mad, it was my job to listen. When people felt hopeless, it was my job to care. When something was broken, it was my job to find out how to fix it.

When border patrol agents weren’t getting the tools they needed to do their job, I stepped in to help. When I found an opportunity to expose more students to computer science, I partnered with non-profits to train local teachers to incorporate coding into math class. I made sure taxpayer money was used more efficiently by changing how the government purchases IT goods and services.

It was never about the size nor difficulty nor sexiness of the problem; It was about making a difference. My philosophy has been simple. Be honest. Treat people with respect. Never shy away from a fight. Never accept “no” or the status quo and never hesitate to speak my mind.

NoTwo centuries ago, I would have been counted as three-fifths of a person, and today I can say I’ve had the honor of serving three terms in Congress. America has come a long way and we still have more to do in our pursuit of a more perfect union. However, this pursuit will stall if we don’t all do our part. When I took the oath of office after joining the CIA, I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all its enemies. I took the same oath on my first day in Congress. This oath doesn’t have a statute of limitations. I will keep fighting to ensure the country I love excels during what will be a time of unprecedented technological change. I will keep fighting to make certain we successfully meet these generational challenges head on. I will keep fighting to remind people why I love America: that we are neither Republican nor Democrat nor Independent; We are better than the sum of our parts.

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The Discussion w The Writer Fred Blacks in the Media: Have We Made Good Progress?

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