32 Chapters
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6. Anger Gives You Energy

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub


Anger Gives You Energy

Los Angeles, 1986

“Pastor Sinnott, please leave the room and wait in the hall!”

Edward T. Chambers, teacher, issues the command, and the Reverend Thomas Sinnott, student, follows it.

Chambers, director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, is teaching a seminar on power at Mount St. Mary’s College in the hills overlooking Los Angeles. Tom Sinnott is a Lutheran minister from New Jersey, and he is one of about 100 people from across the nation who are attending the IAF’s training program for church leaders and community activists.1

During the next 10 minutes, Chambers orders other people to leave the room as well—a youth gang social worker from East Los Angeles, a school teacher from El Paso, a lawyer from East Brooklyn, a Methodist minister from St. Louis. All obey the order. After all, Chambers is the head guy, the leader, the man in charge of the program. But the program is about power, and about how most middle-class and poor people give consent to have it taken away from them.

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14. Is COPS Coming to Your Neighborhood?

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub


Is COPS Coming to Your Neighborhood?

New York, 1986

Texas Lieutenant Governor William P. Hobby Jr. and I share a cab to La Guardia Airport on a crisp fall afternoon. It is one of those interminable rides out of Manhattan, with the mix of high speed, quick stops, and long waits that sends most Texans in New York into orbit. But I am relatively free of anxiety because we have plenty of time before our plane departs and Hobby is calm because . . . Hobby is always calm, sometimes even maddeningly so.

We have been in New York to see the bond rating agencies about the financial condition of the State of Texas, which has not been good since the price of oil slipped from $21 to $11 a barrel. Wall Street is wary of Texas’ ability to meet its obligations, and we have been part of a delegation to reassure investment bankers and bond analysts that state officials will behave responsibly and with fiscal “prudence.” No one in the state can do a better job of reassuring Wall Street than quiet, serious—even shy—Bill Hobby, who since 1972 has stood guard against extremism in Texas government.

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4. You Feel Like Your Work Is a Ministry

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub


You Feel Like Your Work Is a Ministry

San Antonio, 1986

I drive for almost an hour through the suburbs and shopping centers in the rolling hills of northwest San Antonio before I find Mary and Jesse Moreno’s home near the University of Texas Medical School. Jesse has worked for almost four years to remodel the white brick and frame house with bright blue shutters that sits on two acres in the tree-filled neighborhood. The house is spacious and comfortable for Mary and Jesse and their four children who range in age from 6 to 11. Wide windows bring in the pastoral scenes from the backyard where the children’s pony grazes peacefully. While the kids watch Saturday morning cartoons in the den, Mary heats coffee in her microwave and we sit at a huge pine table in the dining room, where books and newspapers are stacked alongside children’s art, school papers, and comfortable family clutter. The washing machine is humming in another room, and we hear Jesse hammering away, making repairs on the carport he recently added. Mary is telling me about her children with an enthusiasm that makes her seem younger than her 38 years. Her jet-black hair is cut stylishly short and she wears a diamond drop around her neck.

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1. Moses and Paul: The World's Greatest Organizers

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub


Moses and Paul: The World’s Greatest Organizers

Dallas, 1986

“Anybody remember Moses?” Ernesto Cortes Jr. asks a group of farmers and farm activists from 40 states who have come to Dallas to discuss their problems and hear Cortes speak at a Farm Crisis Workers Conference.1 A few members of the audience nod and look at each other as if to say, “Who the hell is this and what have we gotten ourselves into?”

Cortes is the coordinator of a dozen or so Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations in Texas, such as San Antonio’s COPS and the Rio Grande Valley Interfaith. Because of his 20-year community organizing career in Texas and around the nation, Cortes has become a legend among American political activists and a source on Hispanic politics for journalists from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and a slew of other publications. The prestigious MacArthur Foundation gave him one of its “genius” grants and $204,000 to do with as he saw fit. Esquire identified him as one of the people who represented America “at its best.”2 Texas Business magazine called Cortes one of the most powerful people in Texas—along with Ross Perot and corporate raider extraordinaire T. Boone Pickens.3 Somehow, with all of this, you don’t expect him to be talking about Moses.

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8. The Black Hand Over San Antonio

Mary Beth Rogers University of North Texas Press PDF


The Black Hand

Over San Antonio

San Antonio, 1966

It is two weeks before the May Democratic Primary election.

University of Texas graduate student Ernesto Cortes has recruited his aunts and neighbors to join him and other college students to stuff envelopes and go door-to-door for a MexicanAmerican attorney, John Alaniz, who is trying to get elected to the Bexar County Commissioners' Court, the official local government arm of the state of Texas. In San Antonio, the political heat is at the boiling point, particularly for those candidates like

Alaniz who are backed by the emerging progressive coalition of

Hispanics, blacks, teachers, unions, and limousine liberals who have won a few offices in the past but have never come close to seizing real power-a voting majority on any public body in the city or county. Now, with more than 100,000 of Bexar County's

235,000 registered voters living in the coalition's strongest voting precincts, the coalition is threatening to capture the majority vote on the five-member county commission and take over the local Democratic party organization. If Alaniz could win, he would join on the commission Albert Pena, who represents the

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