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11. The Race Is Not Always to the Swift

by Richard F. Selcer UNT Press ePub

Chapter 11

There is an old saying that “victory is not always to the strong nor the race to the swift.” The struggle for black equality, often summed-up as “the civil rights movement,” was a marathon not a sprint, and marathons are not won in the first hundred yards or even the first ten miles. They are won by perseverance and determination over the long run. Fort Worth’s black community has been in a marathon since the tiny outpost was planted on the bluffs over the Trinity in 1849. Some would say the struggle (race) is still going on. The black community has triumphed over slavery, Jim Crow, and the glass ceiling, but the race is not over. There are more miles to be run, more battles to be fought.

As the 1960s wound down, “Jim Crow is dead! Long live Jim Crow!” might have served as a battle cry, paraphrasing the traditional proclamation of the English when one king dies and the crown passes immediately to his successor. Thanks to civil rights legislation and court decisions, racial segregation was legally dead, only to be replaced by school busing, quotas, and the glass ceiling in the 1970s. Bill McDonald had likewise died, only to be replaced by J.W. Webber as the paragon of black success and the city’s richest African American. He operated a string of nursing homes and was the president of an insurance company and a funeral home. He owned a big house in a nice, integrated neighborhood and did not have to look up to any man. He was the new Bill McDonald.1

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Chapter 10: Jim Crow R.I.P.

Richard F. Selcer UNT Press PDF

Chapter 10

Jim Crow R.I.P.

The Later Civil Rights Years

The King Comes To Fort Worth

1963 was the year of the historic 250,000-person March on Washington that climaxed with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Years later, Fort Worth blacks would look back on 1963 as “the year the [civil rights] movement began” although few were aware of the planned march and Fort Worth did not send a delegation. Fort Worth was largely insulated from the national civil rights movement at this point. Among those who did attend was Lenora

Rolla who was in Chicago at the time and traveled to Washington from there. It changed her life.1

According to Rolla, the civil rights movement almost passed Fort

Worth by. When she returned home from Washington, D.C. (riding on a segregated train), she was “energized” to bring the fight to Fort Worth.

Her dedication to change elevated her in the eyes of the local black community, but the march changed nothing in the near run; it was just an item in the newspapers. No civil rights marches or sit-ins occurred in

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3. A Growing Sense of Identity (1880–1900)

by Richard F. Selcer UNT Press ePub

Chapter 3

The 1880s to the end of the century were mostly good times for the citizens of Fort Worth. The economy was booming thanks to the cattle and railroad industries, and the population was growing exponentially: more than 400 percent in the twenty years. Most of the newcomers were white, but the black population also grew modestly. In 1880, the city had a total population of 6,718 out of a county of 24,671 people. There are no numbers for the black population of the city, but the county as a whole had 2,160 or roughly 11.4 percent of the total population. Five years later, the white population of the city had increased to approximately 9,000 of whom 4 percent were black, which comes out to 360 black residents. The numbers are hard to correlate since we are dealing with two different sets of numbers (county and city), but the disparity between black population of the county versus that of the city suggests that the great majority of blacks in Tarrant County resided outside the city. That makes sense because most were engaged in agricultural work. The percentage of blacks in the city’s population would continue to rise until by 1900 it reached 10 percent.1

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Plática III

Edited by Linda Heidenreich with Antonia I. Castañeda UNT Press ePub

Plática III

Antonia, in taking what was happening in those conferences, in those venues, and then not losing sight of the fact that people are people and that the layers of misunderstanding were human misunderstandings—that the interactions were human interactions and that no person deserved to be silenced or misconstrued or put down or hurt, but the purpose was really bigger than any of us—that’s what she really has taught me. She taught me this in those years, and then in subsequent years.Because it’s not as if Antonia only did that in 1990. She’s doing that in 2011 as well.

Deena González1

Antonia’s been instrumental in being supportive academically, emotionally, psychically. Just knowing she’s there. You know? In the world. With her strength. With her courage. With her warriorship. With her psychic self. With her emotional self. With her beauty. That long black hair I remember still…. and those leather boots. And she’s a lovely woman inside and out.

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7. “Que Se Pudieran Defender (So You Could Defend Yourselves)”

Edited by Linda Heidenreich with Antonia I. Castañeda UNT Press ePub

Chapter 7

Chicana lives, inscribed on roadways and waterways, link people, rivers, communities, valleys, and regions in histories embedded, since long before the sixteenth century, in northward migrations from Mesoamerican valleys to Inuit shores.1 Where and how do these lives, linked across time, space, and place, fit into regional histories that, at best, reinforce a fragmented understanding of a Chicana/o presence in the region as well as in US history? This fragmented understanding is rooted in a historiography that has excluded Chicanos, a population annexed to the United States by military conquest and international treaty in the mid-nineteenth century, from the conceptualization of both region and nation.

The power of place is in its ordering, and the ordering of space entails the operation of gender, race, and class. In this context, how does a history that recognizes the presence and continuity of Chicanas in these landscapes long before the nineteenth-century annexation reorder the regional and national space that has rendered their historical experience invisible?2 The presence and migrations of Chicanas challenge current constructs of regional history and speak to larger epistemological, methodological, analytical, and interpretive questions and categories in the construction of US history. How do we conceptualize, tell, and write the story of the United States and its regions? Who tells the story and how? Who is authorized to tell the story? Whose story gets told? Who controls the ordering of time, space, and place?

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