The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981

Book Reviews

Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas. By
Darlene Clark Hine. (Millwood, New York: KTO Press, 1979- Pp.
266. Preface, afterword, bibliography, index. $19.95.)
This monograph recounts the efforts of some black Texans, in con-
cert with the NAACP, to gain free access to the polls for Afro-Ameri-
cans in the Lone Star State. While the legal struggle to vote in the
electoral event that counted most in the state's political system did not
bring about an immediate transformation of Texas politics after 1944,
the judicial precedents in the abolition of the white primary were the
first wave in a tide which overturned educational discrimination and
legislative malapportionment. The beginnings of federal judicial ac-
tivism are found in the white primary decisions. Originally the au-
thor's doctoral dissertation at Kent State University, this political his-
tory argues that the Texas white primary cases marked the beginnings
of the modern civil rights movement.
The book's ten chapters render a pedestrian account of the destruc-
tion of the white primary from the background of the precedent-
setting decisions of the late nineteenth-century Supreme Court to the
Smith decision in 1944. An afterword attempts to fix the relationship
of the legal struggle against the white primary in Texas to the Second
Reconstruction.
Black Victory is the first full-length examination of the political di-
mension of modern black history in Texas. It complements the pub-
lished work of Alwyn Barr, Michael L. Gillette, Robert V. Haynes, and
Lawrence D. Rice. While it breaks no new ground, it provides an ade-
quate account of the significance of the white primary cases. A major
omission in the author's researches is the evident oversight of a major
body of unpublished literature in a series of doctoral dissertations
completed at Texas Tech University under the direction of either
Lawrence L. Graves or Alwyn Barr. These studies, which survey the
history of black Texans for various periods (for example, 1865-1876,
1900-1930, and 1930-1954), are inexplicably ignored in Black Victory.
In addition, this study is flawed by several misspellings, misstate-
ments, geographical inaccuracy, and infelicitous jargon. But more im-
portantly, the book never really confronts the fact that the white pri-
mary struggle directly involved only a small portion of the black
population of Texas. The death of the white primary did not end the
difficulties confronting black Texans. Black Victory, while offering an
acceptable narrative account of the white primary struggle, does not

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/. Accessed December 17, 2014.