Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 16, Number 01, Spring, 2004 Page: 28
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the steps with him. And I don't know that I was
focusing on anything. All I know is that it suddenly
dawned on me that the most intelligent
thing to do was to not only allow the community
to vent their feelings, but to be an integral
part of that outreach.
To be a credible leader you've got to be able
to feel the pain of your followers and I thought
that was important. I thought it was important
that I be there, that I share my indignation along
with them, but to act in a responsible way. To be
emotional, to have an outcry of despair, to say
things that maybe should not have been said was
an understandable reaction. And so that is why I
Payne:What did you say? Can you describe
some of the actions of the demonstrators?
What did you tell them that was the good thing
Agiuirre:Well, I don't remember what I said.
All I knew was that I have to behave in a way
that does not promote disorder. And it was a
very heavy thought to feel that I was key to the
reaction. Whatever I did was going to be interpreted
hopefully positive, but it could be in a
And then it all blurs together because the
next thing I remember vividly is being on top
of the car. Nobody had been able to hear what
I had to say. But Chief Steele was in his car, and
I don't remember how this happened, but I
believe that he came out-as I understood it
later-to protect me. And he had a microphone.
I don't remember how I got it, but I got
it, and I decided to get on top of the car and try
to diffuse the emotions that were by then
already rampant. Some people felt things would
be better if they would kind of encourage the
folks to get emotional about it and scream and
say things. I never did that because I didn't
think that was a good idea.
Payne: Do you think the police were very
pleased to have you there as the elected
Aguirre: I don't know. I don't remember anyone
coming one way or the other. I remember
that some of my fellow Council people later on
said, "It would be crazy to go down there." And
during one particular phone call that I made, I
was told, "You know, you ought not be there. It
is a no-win deal."
But it didn't have any effect. I didn't feel
that way so I stayed.
There were a lot of wonderful things that
happened in terms of preserving the order. I
was just aware of the anxiety that I was confronted
with. And under the circumstances,
much of it is a blur. I read about a lot of it and
was amazed as anyone else the first time they
read it because I was there.
But somehow or another I was detached
from it because I had this one central thought
and that is:You've got to be responsible. *
Editor's Note: Pedro Aguirre is a graduate of
Texas A&M who was the first Hispanic man elected
to the Dallas City Council, where he served one term.
He is a practicing architect who owns his own firm.
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 16, Number 01, Spring, 2004, periodical, 2004; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35092/m1/30/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.