The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 377

Book Reviews

the essays are uneven; the fact that many are over twenty years old is a little dis-
appointing. On the whole, though, the essays effectively address the role of
African Americans in most of the West.
There is one aspect of this book that will disappoint Texas historians. The es-
says focus on the African American experience in Utah, Colorado, Montana,
and other western states with small black populations, but do little with Texas.
Even though Texas clearly fits into the editors' definition of the West, and the
population table they include in their appendix indicates that Texas accounted
for 98 percent of the western black population in 1850 and over 73 percent in
1910, readers will learn little about black Texans in this book. For the history of
African Americans in other parts of the West, this book has much to offer.
Texas Southern University Cary Wintz
Make Haste Slowly: Moderates, Conservatives, and School Desegregation in Houston. By
William Henry Kellar. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999.
Pp. xiii+226. Illustrations and tables, preface, introduction, epilogue, notes,
bibliography, index. ISBN 0-89096-818-7. $38.95, cloth.)
Historians have bemoaned, in the SHQ itself, the dearth of case studies that
critically examine the American experience in metropolitan communities in the
South and Far West. Since the call for broader, deeper, and more focused atten-
tion to southern and Sunbelt cities, several important studies have emerged on
San Francisco, New Orleans, Memphis, and Birmingham. Houston, too, is begin-
ning to be seriously studied.
Make Haste Slowly is among the first fruits of a new urban historiography bring-
ing the largest '"Jim Crow" city in the South out of the shadows of obscurity. Kel-
lar synthesizes different interpretations of power and ideology in Texas from
186o to 1960-notably those of George Fuermann, George Norris Green, and
Don Carleton-to write a sympathetic and detailed account of public school de-
segregation in Houston. He makes an original contribution in his discussion of
the years after the Brown decision up to the "shallow victory" (p. 117) of token
desegregation in 1960, when twelve African Americans entered schools barred
from them by racists. Kellar makes deft use of oral histories, newspaper archives,
and school board minutes to construct a picture of white liberals, McCarthyite
segregationists, NAACP activists, and Hattie White, the first African American to
be elected to the city school board, in 1958, grappling with race, law, and jus-
The central deficiency in Kellar's otherwise valuable study is his lack of a theo-
ry of the socioeconomic structure on which the school desegregation drama was
staged. He posits the existence of "an informal downtown establishment" exert-
ing control over school policies to "the degree to which its views reflected the be-
liefs of the general populace" (p. 55). Later he says that the start of sit-ins
against segregation "increased the pressure on white officials to find ways to deal
with the race issue" (p. 118). Predictably, he concludes that a white economic
elite made a behind-the-scenes decision that the preservation of a healthy busi-
ness climate required token compliance with Brown. Ironically, Kellar writes that
"business support for school desegregation had to be covert, so as not to offend



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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. ( accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.