Heritage, Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 1993 Page: 26
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Democratic primaries were considered virtual
office holders. The Democratic primaries
took on greater importance than
the actual elections.
To paraphrase Bryson, as the Republican
Party deserted the black man, the Negroes
deserted the Republican Party.
However, to a large degree they had no
where to go. For example: "In Marshall,
Texas, the community where Dr. L.A.
Nixon was born, agreement to exclude
Negroes from political life came early.
Although the population of the county in
1876 was 68 percent Negro, the candidates
in the Democratic primary agreed that no
colored voters be allowed to vote in the
primary election unless the judges have
positive information that the applicant has
heretofore voted the Democratic ticket."
A very handy Catch-22.
After receiving his medical degree from
Meharry Medical College in Nashville,
Tennessee, Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon returned
to practice medicine in Cameron,
Texas. This was 1906. However, due to
the lynchings and lawlessness of a large
sector of the community, Dr. Nixon decided
to move his practice to El Paso at the
end of 1909. His practice thrived, and he
became a respected member of the community
active in the Democratic Party.
However, on July 24, 1924, he presented
his poll tax receipt at the 9th precinct
and, in compliance with Article 3093a
of the Revised Civil Statutes, which stated
that"... in no event shall a Negro be eligible
to participate in a Democratic primary
election held in the State of Texas ...", he
was denied the opportunity to vote in the
Democratic primary. Dr. Nixon was not
surprised by the outcome, but he was willing
to take action.
On July 31, 1924, Dr. Nixon, through
the good offices of Fred C. Kollenberg and
the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People, sued C.
Cerndon and Charles Porras, the responsible
officials, for $5,000 damages. Much as
expected, the suit was dismissed on December
4, 1924, by Judge DuVal who was
sitting on the Federal District Court at El
Paso. This set the stage for an appeal to the
United States Supreme Court. Knollenberg
successfully filed for an assignment of errors
on February 27, 1925, and the Supreme
Court accepted the case for the October
term of 1926. Eventually the case was
called for argument on January 4, 1927,
and on March 7, 1927, a unanimous favorable
decision was handed down.
This victory was not to last too long. At
the first opportunity the Texas Legislature
modified the Revised Civil Statutes, explicitly
giving the state executive committees
of the various political parties the
power "... to prescribe the qualifications of
its own members and in its own way determine
who shall be qualified to vote or
otherwise participate ...". And the whole
process began again.
Attempts to resolve the situation failed,
and it was back to the courtroom. Again
Fred Knollenberg filed for $5,000 damages.
The second suit, Nixon vs. Condon and
Knolle, was filed on March 15, 1929, in the
United States District Court at El Paso. In
this petition Knollenberg made it clear
that the goal was to evade the previous
Supreme Court decision and to establish
where the responsibility lay.
Dismissed by the District Court, it was
taken to the Court of Appeals in Fort
Worth. An adverse decision was handed
down on May 16, 1931, and the case was
taken before the United States Supreme
Court. The case was first argued on January
7, 1932, by the N.A.A.C.P. lawyers James
Marshall and Nathan Margold. After
various re-arguments, Justice Benjamin
Cardozo wrote a convoluted opinion that
finally agreed that the changes wrought
were no more than a transparent attempt
to circumvent the results of Nixon's previous
complaint. And so, the case was referred
back to the District Court where
Nixon was awarded nominal damages.
However, this was a hollow victory since
the Cardozo decision indicated that only
the State Democratic Convention could
decide on the membership of the Democratic
Party. So, low and behold, on May
24, 1932, less than a month after the Supreme
Court decision was handed down,
the Texas State Democratic Convention
passed a resolution that limited its membership
to "white citizens."
During the next ten years despite various
attempts to gain redress, the situation
changed little until Smith vs. Allwright was
argued before the Supreme Court by
Thurgood Marshall in November 1943.
The disposition of this case indicated that:
A primary is an election under the meaning
of the 15th amendment "and even if a
political party is considered a private organization,
it is an agency of the State in
its conduct of primary elections." So it was
on July 22, 1944, that Dr. Lawrence A.
Nixon was able to vote again in a Texas
JUH: An Incredible Indian
Dan Thrapp, Texas Western Press, University
of Texas at El Paso, 
Review by R.B. Brown, a research professor
for the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e
Historia and caretaker of Paquime in Casas
Texas Western Press has done all those
interested in Apache culture and history a
great service in republishing Dan Thrapps'
"JUH: An Incredible Indian." Originally
published some 20 years ago, it has become
increasingly difficult to find. Thrapps' book
provides a most interesting glimpse at one
of the key players in the closing of the
As Thrapp notes in his new foreword,
Juh was a military genius who surpassed his
colleagues. For example, through daring
and determination he managed to rescue
several hundred fellow Apaches from the
San Carlos Reservation and successfully
lead them into Mexico with the U.S. Army
in hot pursuit.
According to the book, Juh was probably
born in Sonora during the 1820s and
died near Casas Grandes on September 21,
1883. During the intervening years he
demonstrated a leadership seldom surpassed,
often outwitting both U.S. and Mexican
regulars and irregulars. Regretfully, our
knowledge of Juh, like many Native Americans,
is limited to the documentary sources
and comments of opponents.
It seems as if Juh passed the early years of
his life in northern Mexico. Apparently he
came to the notice of the Mexican authorities
for the first time in 1855 when the
Apaches successfully raided Namiquipa,
on Chihuahua's Santa Maria River. It
seems as if Namiquipa represented the
southeastern corner of Juh's stomping
ground. During the years he fought and
won a number of battles. Most of those in
Mexico were northwest of Galeana, while
those fought in the U.S. covered southern
New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.
Juh was a leader who knew when to fight
and when to leave the field. Juh often
retreated to a stronghold in the Sierra Madre
on the border between Sonora and Chihuahua.
Thrapp draws attention to Juh's insis
tence on the need for discipline amongst
his troops as evidenced by his control of their
actions and movements in battle.
26 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1993
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 1993, periodical, Summer 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45416/m1/26/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.