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Civil Rights in the Texas Borderlands

Civil Rights in the Texas Borderlands: Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon and Black Activism

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 280
  • Book Info
    Civil Rights in the Texas Borderlands
    Book Description:

    In 1907, physician Lawrence A. Nixon fled the racial violence of central Texas to settle in the border town of El Paso. There he became a community and civil rights leader. His victories in two Supreme Court decisions paved the way for dismantling all-white political primaries across the South. Will Guzmán delves into Nixon's lifelong struggle against Jim Crow. Linking Nixon's activism to his independence from the white economy, support from the NAACP, and the man's own indefatigable courage, Guzmán also sheds light on Nixon's presence in symbolic and literal borderlands--as an educated professional in a time when few went to college, as an African American who made waves when most feared violent reprisal, and as someone living on the mythical American frontier as well as an international boundary. A powerful addition to the literature on African Americans in the Southwest, Civil Rights in the Texas Borderlands explores seldom-studied corners of the Black past and the civil rights movement.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09688-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Notes on Usage
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Lawrence A. Nixon Chronology
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  7. Introduction. Tale of a Doctor, History of a Land
    (pp. 1-10)

    The accomplishments of Dr. Lawrence Aaron Nixon were similar to those of other courageous Black Texan leaders.¹ Nixon, along with Lula B. White of Houston, Juanita J. Craft of Dallas, Claude W. Black Jr. of San Antonio, and Warneta and Volma Overton of Austin, was instrumental in advancing race relations at the local level and ensuring that the United States lived up to the principles of its constitution.² The arena in which he and these other activists fought was inhospitable, and much more deserves to be said regarding Nixon’s personal contribution within the larger context of borderlands history, African Americans...

  8. CHAPTER 1 Marshall, Texas, 1883–1909
    (pp. 11-29)

    Lawrence Aaron Nixon grew up after the presidential compromise of 1877—a time in U.S. history when violence by whites against Blacks was rampant and when resurgent white power, especially in the South, steadily circumscribed the constitutional rights of African Americans.¹ This era was a period of social unrest and political upheaval, during which race relations deteriorated dramatically. Black people and their interests were placed on the sacrificial altar of political expediency by many whites within the Republican party in exchange for the removal of federal troops from the South, sectional harmony, and the expansion of big business and global...

  9. CHAPTER 2 The Lure of El Paso, 1910–1919
    (pp. 30-50)

    Lawrence Nixon departed Cameron, Texas, on New Year’s Eve 1909. He and his good friend Le Roy White loaded their personal belongings, including household and office furniture and a horse and buggy, onto a freight car.¹ It is not clear how Le Roy White and Nixon became friends or where they had met. They could have been childhood friends from Nixon’s days in New Orleans or Marshall. Perhaps they met in the city of Cameron during the three years that Nixon lived there or in Nashville while Nixon was a student at Meharry. If they were childhood friends from Marshall,...

  10. CHAPTER 3 Bullets and Ropes: Wading in Bloody Waters, 1919–1924
    (pp. 51-66)

    In the spring of 1918 in an editorial for theCrisis, Du Bois voiced his hope that Black Americans would soon be accorded the basic rights all Americans deserved.¹ It is likely that Lawrence Nixon, as a member of the El Paso NAACP, received and regularly read the monthlyCrisis, which was delivered to the homes of thousands of African Americans throughout the country.² The words from its most famous editor would be prophetic.

    Heeding Du Bois’s call, Nixon helped dismantle the racial status quo in Texas. Nixon knew the political realities and implications of his affiliation with an organization...

  11. CHAPTER 4 Nixon, the NAACP, and the Courts, 1924–1934
    (pp. 67-86)

    Lawrence Nixon once said that the Black man just “wants true democracy as laid down in the constitution, and feels he will be satisfied if he gets that.”¹ Was the ballot, then, the ticket to freedom for Black America? Joseph Madison, former NAACP voter registration director, argued that “it has been the ticket to the train but the train has not arrived at the final destination which would be the sharing of wealth and power. The great problem is that in many black communities there is not even a stop to board the train.”² In the decades following Nixon’s involvement...

  12. CHAPTER 5 Optimism and Rejection, 1925–1962
    (pp. 87-108)

    In the mid-1920s, while in the midst of battling in the courts for the right to vote in the Texas Democratic primary, Lawrence Nixon continued to address the health care needs of African Americans.¹ From 1926 to 1934, Nixon invested a large amount of time and resources into establishing a hospital in El Paso for Black patients with tuberculosis. His efforts reveal a great deal about access to the health care system for African Americans in El Paso during this period. Nixon’s efforts also highlight his ideas, politics, and willingness to stick to his guns. Clearly, he was committed to...

  13. Coda
    (pp. 109-114)

    By 1948, when Nixon was sixty-five years old, his vibrant career as a civic leader and activist had slowed drastically. After the SCHW folded, he no longer engaged himself with any organization or activity dealing with social justice causes. Between 1948 and his death in 1966, he lived a relatively quiet life, devoting himself primarily to his medical practice and his family. Perhaps this was because his lifelong advocacy work had drained him; perhaps, too, he was stung by the indignity of being labeled a radical for his membership in the SCHW. The public, however, and especially African Americans, had...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 115-174)
  15. Index
    (pp. 175-182)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 183-184)