Southwestern Historical Quarterly
he could not ignore his constituents in Texas if he expected to be
reelected. She could excuse Johnson but had problems with some of
Johnson's colleagues and mentors, including Georgia Sen. Richard
Russell. While intellectually she could accept the possibility that Russell's
public statements may have been motivated by the same forces that
caused Johnson to weaken the 1957 Civil Rights Act, still she seemed
reluctant to tell Gillette how she really regarded some of the president's
southern associates who led the fight against the Civil Rights Act of
1964. "I must accept them the way they are because he accepts them.
There is nothing else I can do about it."27
While the four Marshallites grappled with the nation's response to
demands by its African American citizens for equality, their hometown
was making national news on the civil rights front. The uneasy peace
between the races in Marshall was broken March 26, 1960, an election
year, when the lunch counter sit-ins began in Greensboro, North
Carolina, reached the East Texas town.28 For four days in late March,
Wiley and Bishop students sat in at lunch counters at Woolworth,
Fry-Hodge Drugs, and the bus station. On the final day of the sit-ins,
lawmen and at least one citizen volunteer used fire hoses on some of the
students who had gathered on the square in support of the students who
had been arrested earlier and were on their way into the courthouse to
be arraigned. At least seventy-one young people, all students of either
Bishop or Wiley, were arrested. Most were charged with misdemeanor
offenses, although a few of the leaders were indicted on felony charges.
Texas Rangers were called in to enforce the law and to investigate the
sit-ins themselves. These were the largest sit-ins in Texas, and made
national television news broadcasts as well as the New York Times.29 They
also caused the Texas House of Representatives to order an investigation
27 Wright to Gillette, December 1974, interview, Tape 1 transcript, 34.
28 "Peace" in this case, is only relative. According to the list of lynchings compiled by the
Tuskegee Institute, Harrison County was the location of fifty lynchings, more than any other
county m the state. See lynching files (Texas) (Tuskegee University Archives, Tuskegee, Ala.).
Many were covered, and condemned, in the local newspaper. In 1950 city civil clubs tried to ban
the movie Pnky, maintaining it promoted miscegenation. See various editions of the Marshall
News Messenger from February to March 1950o. In 1948 the local chapter of the NAACP filed suit
to eliminate the White Citizens Primary, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans
ruled in their favor in 1952. See various editions of Marshall News Messenger from 1948 to 1952.
In 1957 Wiley student Titus Edwards filed suit in federal court to integrate the city-maintained
swimming pool, which the city sold rather than integrate after an overwhelming vote by the city's
white citizens to do so. See various editions of the Marshall News Messenger from July to November
1957. On the other hand, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson carried the county in her successful election
for governor in 1924. The local newspaper made the election of Mrs. Ferguson a vote against the
Ku Klux Klan. See Marshall Morning Messenger, Aug. 15 to Aug. 24, 1924. Also see research file,
Fred Lewis papers (Marshall Public Library, Marshall, Texas).
2" The New York Tzmes citation was mentioned and the national television footage shown m
"Marshall Texas/ Marshall Texas."
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed December 29, 2014.