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tv   Max Krochmal Blue Texas  CSPAN  June 3, 2018 3:41pm-4:00pm EDT

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row lit fest in in chicago. then in new orleans, the conference featuring a need talk by form first lady michelle obama, and on june 23rd the fdr presidential library and human hosts the roosevelt reading festival, day of author programs on the life and tenure of america's 32nd president. then from july 11th to the 14th it's the annual libertarian conference, freedomfest in las vegas. for more information about upcoming book fairs and festivals and to watch previous festival coverage, click the book fair's tab on our web site, >> the book is called "blue texas: the make offering a multiracial democratic coalition in the civil rising era" the book dry draws back the curtain or the story of another texas. not the texas of big care and
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cowboy conservativism that you might social with the state but rather a history in which it's a hotbed of liberal, political organizing, civil rights activism, of trade unionism, and above all, the story i tell is how activists from different groups, african-americans, mexican americans and whites, came together and built an alliance, coalition for both the sive rights and labor rights and political power. there are four legs the coalition. mexican-americans, where most liberal militant faction of mexican-american, the most liberal militant faction of african-american civil rights actives. the most liberal wing. the organized labor which becomes under the umbrella of the texas afl-cio, the federation, and the group of white liberal democrats. we became known as independent democrats but previously in a
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group called the democrats of texas, the do torch. people confuse a coalition with a coalesce sense or two groups merging together and basically lose their identity. but a coalition is the opposite. it's the great civil rights activist, bernice johnson reagan pointed out, one has to have separate homes and houses before you can forge a coalition. so when these groups came together, didn't usually go well. this was not a smooth alliance. for all of the ways that jim crow and -- african-americans and mexican-americans were distinct. they lived in separate neighborhoods, they followed different leaders, they embraced different priorities, they practiced separate religions or religious denominations, spoke
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separate languages. all these things separated them so nothing natural but a coming together of mexic-americans and african-americans. each group learned they'd needed each other just like organized labor learned it needed allies and white liberalled learn over time if they were going to keep electing their people they were going to need to take the issues of civilights activists more seriously. that was the foundation, and so what would happen was they would coming to for a meeting and yell at each other. you don't really care about our issues. too many of our programs are discussions are focused on labor rights and not on these other issues, or your proposing a joint northwester which we would prioritize african-americans instead of mexican-americans, and so they often fail to agree in the early years next '60s, and over time the groups discover that the distinctions
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of class, of strategy, of tactics, of political ideology andhilosophy, come to matter at least as much as the tie is of race ofthci. so it's a very gradual process. the book shows the process in great detail. how its that these activists slowly learn the lessons about who is on their side and who isn't, who they can count upon who they can't, how do they start to hash through the various missteps. one example. i believe it was in '62 the democratic coalition healed a immediating in austin. brought together all these people to talk but a joint campaign but held the meeting in a segregated hotel. so african-american attendees were forced to enter through the back in frighten elevator, this is 1962. so naturally that did not create a climate of trust among all the participants, and so the
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african-american delegates had to point this out at the meeting, and albert peña, one of the chairs of the meeting, went out of his way to apologize for this incident. when out of his way to talk about the issues with voter suppression that the coalition should prioritize in towards do right by the african-american members. so that is one of many examples. a few years earlier in 1958, when hen henry gone sol les ran for gov, he had trim support million african-americans and mexican-american buzz in white liberal refused to get behind his campaign, even though they didn't have viable candidate some there was ongoing conflict and tension but the remarkable
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part of the story is that after each blowup or confrontation, they came together again. the day after an election they lost because they couldn't agree on a candidate, someone would send out a letter and say, let's get together again, and they would. they would figure out where to hold the meeting. that would point of contention, whose turn to meet on but they would figure out where to meet and then coming to and say, let's analyze where we went wrong, and how we can do this better. so over a period of years they start to talk more openly about their differences, about their disparate needs and separate priorities, and by 1963, they're able to launch -- well, by 1963, organized lasher and the white liberals are forced to accept african-americans and mexican-americans as full partners rather than junior ones
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to they can their issue. >> and prioritize the struggle for civil rights as the top domestic issues. they defined civil rights broadly that includes african-american issues can freedom now, immediate integration of facilities and drops drops and often included mexican-american issues, the right to organize i union and the reel poof of right to work laws and organized labor was history clay -- historically a white organization, had, by 1963 the leader 0 the labor movement called a press conference demand that the governor of texas call a special session of the legislature specifically to deal with civil rights issues and they do it not out of charity or altruism or because they're bleeding heart liberals but because they learned that issue is their own issue and their own
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self-interest to advocate for civil rights and the path to victory. so in 1963, these groups come together on new basisment constantly reform lating about the legalization means and in 1963, some 300 gather a ballroom in dallas and they kind of relaunch this coalition, and by that point they've settled upon a rigidly and deliberately democratic internal structure. the coalition has four identified legs, african-americans, african-americans, independent white liberals and labor. each of those four legs gets to send an equal number of delegates to at the meeting. the coalition is howard by four cochairman, each from each leg. each committee has equal representations and when conflict arises, as it always
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does, instead of it tearing them apart or blunting effective coordinated action, they actually caucus in separate corn hes of the room and hash out the issues and agree on compromise. in the end they coming to. and they are able to raise money from their own coffers and bailed political ground game, grassrootses campaign field operation, unlike anything seen before or since. and it's a political campaign, but it's rooted in the civil rights movement, so they build this field operation and graft it on top of local struggles. they hire dozen of campaign staff and they focus their efforts for the first time ever in texas history, on african-americans in the inner cities, mexican-americans in the barrios, both groups in the the
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recall hinterlandses of east texas and south texas, and pair they've u with a prom music unionists and women attached t organized labor. but the field campaign that the democratic coalition launches, cold project vote, voter otexas enlist and they go around spreading this message of the struggle for freedom through building political power, their leaf alllets talk about fight segregation, register to vote today so they registers people and turned them out. they do so through an army of block workers, they call it. block walker, peek who are local precinct captains in each neighborhood. they have as many as ten thousand volunteer block workers in the state participating along with dozens of paid staff. that mean its they treason a generation of political activist 'one of their campaign staffers
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in houston was a woman named barbara jordan who goes on to become first a state senator and then a united states congresswoman and had a great repute. but this is part of her origin story. so this coalition succeeds in 1964 in reelected ralph yarborough to the senate, in re-elect lyndon johnson to the presidency and getting support in texas for him, and ultimately they transform local politics. they redraw the map of texas elections so that now, today, you have these blue inner city, central cities, surrounds by red suburbs. but they scudded in their goal of breaking down the doors of the democratic party and transforming it and using it to filing for things like equal
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prime minister opportunity. they helped to win the civil rights act and the roting -- voting righting a and implement them. they have to keep sitting at lunch counter and file indicate in the court. and fight in the workplace. mr. moses leroy, fighting for equal opportunity and in 1965 he has the tool eeoc and can use that to break open employment at the southern pack. a few years later he is the named plaintiff on a case that creates single member voting district tuesday the city of houston. so day achieved this decades long goal of winning independent political power. it's the same peel. over seasonal e several decades doing this work and at is turns out, what they learned was that coalition building was their
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secret weapon, the secret weapon of the civil rights activist, black, brown and white labor activists, the way to extend their power into new arenas ared accomplish as much as they did. the democratic coalition is such, it come as i part in '65 and '66 for a wide variety of reasons, one being theirs own success. the succeeded the changing the political dynamic sufficiently that new opportunities were opening up, new politicians, new configurations new people on the scene, and ultimately this liberal coalition is challenged on theft by more radical coalition of chicano power and black power activists even. the right reform lates. the power shifts through the suburbs, new districts, a lot of pieces there. over time the establishment democrats move into the republican party and govern from that side.
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there's a blip in the '089s with the election of ann richards as a liberal democrat but since then texas has been solidly republicn. every statewide office has been won by a republican candidate and yet the cities are these blue spots on the map. that's they state of where we are now. right now there's a senate election happening in texas, a couple years ago we had a rather were publicked gubernatorial x-rays people in america are asking, is texas going to turn blue, when? what the factors that are going to be part of that. there's number of less beyond that give us some insaying. -- insight. the fit i what made the democratic coalition successful was that it succeeded -- it connected high politics politice
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electoral arena to grassroots social movements, particularly to morally driven, incentury general sits about fundamental human rights. when the coalition trade to do just politics, it doesn't win. when its trade to overlook deeper issues and couldn't -- didn't win but the more liberal it became, the more explicitly integrationist, and the more committed it became to embracing unruly tactics the more effective it became. so i think the democratic party in texas and nationwide today would do well to learn from that history alone, that -- rather than focusing on terming out moderate center, it needs to think about building as many bases and combining them in a coalition. not just one base but many base us the democratic part is a big tent. what froms don't would to see to
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democratic partyer is one that is committed to that morally driven insurgency on behalf of human rights. they want democrats talking about "black lives matter" instead of downplaying it or minimizing it as near criminal justice reform. mexican-americans, last teen knows -- latinos want a dream yack movement -- not be wishy washy on the issues issues and s clear lesson for texas and financial lyric that pet party's path forward is by nothing do politics as usual but by truly committing-to-connecting with grass roots social movements and moral causes. remains to be seen the extent which the democratic party will benefit but a is detain from the grassroot movements and the movements remany skeptical of the sincerity of particularly white liberal democrats.
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so we're back in the 1950s. in texas i read memos from the 1950s that read read am very bait tim that's ones -- verbatim. they talk bet the changing demographics and witness become a liberal dem democratic place and turn by. blue but didn't happen. the demographics, signs there's some changes that would favor democrats. there are also signs there aren't. there's white in migration of conservative angelos, falling burg rates among lat teen -- birth rates among latino, the history shows those numbers are more than the ground game the actual you'ring than getting various activists together in a
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room to hash out heir difference to find ways to work together despite the differences to put them on the table and work through them and to build a cowboys nateed ground came that can mobilize an army of board people to volunteer as block workers. they were able to do that in '63, '64, into '75. we have not seen a ground game on that scale since. i the democrats want to turn publication blue anyway need to invite more resources and need to do what the democratic coalition did, high froms and mexican-americans who are deeply in imbedded in the community and make the party relevant to people residents daily lives and their more immediate struggles
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... >> you can watch any of our past interviews and tours online by going to and selecting c-span's cities tour from the series drop-down at the top of the page. or by visiting you can also follow the c-span cities tour on twitter for behind the scenes images and video from our visits. the handle is @c-spancitys. [inaudible conversations] >> good


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