26 Chapters
Medium 9781574414875

FORT PHANTOM HILL

B. W. Aston and Donathan Taylor The University of Chicago Press ePub

Fort

Phantom Hill

Continue along Highway 283 from Fort Griffin straight into Albany.

Albany became the county seat of Shackelford County in 1874, and soon overtook and passed Fort Griffin in population and business. Sallie Reynolds Matthews lived here, whose life story, along with that of the community, is related in a frontier classic, Interwoven. The title comes from the intermarriage of members of two outstanding families of the county, Matthews and Reynolds.

Albany’s awareness of its past is immediately noticeable in the historical preservation in the town. Also Albany produces the “Fort Griffin Fandangle” each year, an historical pageant put on by home talent. In the early 1930s, Robert Nail, a Princeton graduate in drama and a Phi Beta Kappa, began to apply his talent to the fascinating story of the Clear Fork country frontier. Through the years he made the production an event of renown. Since his death his associates have continued this fine production.

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Medium 9781574414363

15. We Are the Only Alternative

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

15

We Are the Only Alternative

San Antonio, 1986

“Most people have come into our communities to destroy them . . . the Klan . . . the dope dealers . . . the developers. . . . The people have looked to their ministers to defend and protect them.”1

The speaker is the Reverend Nehemiah Davis, the distinguished black pastor of the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Fort Worth. The setting is the modern new Catholic chancery of the archdiocese of San Antonio. The audience is a group of about 60 Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, and Texas community leaders from eight Texas Industrial Areas Foundation organizations who are meeting to get to know each other better and determine how they can exert statewide influence as a network. Some of them have driven 13 hours from El Paso to be at the meeting, and several of the El Paso representatives speak no English. So the low rumble of simultaneous translation from English to Spanish accompanies the dialogue, which is about power and how to solidify it locally and leverage it statewide.

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13. We Are Not an Illusion of the Moment

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

13

We Are Not an Illusion of the Moment

Houston, 1978

Houston, Texas, is a city true to its past.

It grew out of a land development scheme in a hot, humid, mosquito-infested marsh in 1836 when two imaginative entrepreneurs—J.K. and A.C. Allen—persuaded Texas hero Sam Houston to lend his name to the settlement in return for a few acres of free land. Sam Houston also used his influence in 1837 to help the outpost become the capital of the new Republic of Texas.1 In the next two years, the city’s population tripled from 500 to 1,500, and the Allen brothers began to make a fortune. With Sam Houston on their side, the developers boasted to their East Coast investors that their city would soon become the “great commercial emporium of Texas.”2

For the next 142 years, other imaginative developers, cotton brokers, merchants, railroaders, bankers, oil producers, shippers, and lawyers had a host of public officials on their side as well, and they made deals every bit as clever as the Allen brothers’ alliance with Sam Houston. Like the Aliens, their money-making schemes helped the city grow.

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

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

1

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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5. The University of COPS

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

5

The University of COPS

San Antonio, 1986

The doors to the old elementary school on the grounds of the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish on the West Side of San Antonio are locked. Only the small red, white, and blue lapel button taped over a doorbell gives me any assurance that I am where I want to be: at the office of the neighborhood organization COPS. A hand-lettered sign lets me know I must ring the bell to gain entrance. The parish and the West Side neighborhood are so poor and devastated by urban renewal that they can no longer support the school. So the 70-year-old building is locked, boarded up, and used only for periodic sessions of an adult literacy class—and for the COPS headquarters, located on the second floor and accessible to the West Side leaders who run the organization. After my first visit, I understood the necessity of the locked doors. There are hazards in the old building and in the neighborhood. One day I lost my footing and fell on a chipped cement stairway that had no railings. Another time, a mentally retarded man exposed himself to me in the parking lot.

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