Tuesday, February 24, 2009

George Washington Jr.

While I was covering the court house for the Houston Post I ran into a black attorney named George Washington Jr. George had graduated from the University of Texas law school, in fact, he was the second black man to graduate there in the Sixties. George was a remarkable scholar, but he still had some hangups about race. He married a black school teacher named Emma Lois and they had three children, all boys. George was doing well, drawing wills and filing probate, but he got mixed up in the turmoil of the Sixties. He decided to defend the Freedom Riders, a mixed group of black and white students from the University of California who rode a train from Los Angeles to Houston to protest segregation. These students were arrested at Union Station in Houston. Moderate black business men posted bond for the students and they were housed in black homes in the Third Ward awaiting trial in the County Court at Law. This aroused more emotion than I can describe becaused Houston was still filled with residents with East Texas attitudes. The result was that the students were convicted of violation of the laws which defined racism. Once again the business men posted bond and the students were free on this bail. The case eventually was overturned in the higher courts. However, George collapsed during this time and had a nervous breakdown. He had received threatening telephone calls and sometimes he got a call at his office that his wife had been killed. Finally, George gave up and moved to Dallas, where he got a job selling real estate. I will tell you more about George before long.

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