How Six Black Golfers Won Civil Rights in Beaumont, Texas
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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Beginning in the late nineteenth century, white Americans in southern states instituted the Jim Crow caste system; they established laws and customs that codified longtime racial prejudices against African Americans and relegated them to segregated and subservient positions in society. African Americans opposed this racial discrimination from the beginning and over the years have...
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This history of golf course desegregation in Beaumont, Texas, features ten key persons: six black golfers, Booker Fayson, Joe Griffin, Bill Narcisse, Tom Parker, Johnnie Ware, and Earl White; three black lawyers, Theodore Johns, Elmo Willard, and U. Simpson Tate; and one white judge, Lamar Cecil. All these men have passed...
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On the morning of Tuesday, June 14, 1955, five black men hurried up the wide front steps of city hall in Beaumont, Texas. They passed beneath the tall fluted columns of the neoclassical building and pulled open heavy double doors. Dressed in Sunday clothes, the men were on their way to a regular meeting of city council. People who saw the men might have guessed something unusual...
CHAPTER 1. Beaumont, Texas, 1955
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Booker Fayson lived in “the Pear Orchard,” a “colored” section of Beaumont, while Mayor Elmo Beard resided in South Park, an area reserved for white people. Likewise for Judge Lamar Cecil and all the others, white and black, involved in the Tyrrell Park golf course lawsuit: They lived in single-race...
CHAPTER 2. Black Beaumont
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Forsythe, Gladys, and Irving Streets and Washington Boulevard formed the backbones of four districts that thrived with businesses owned and operated by African Americans. These districts were the home territories of Beaumont’s black middle class, a small group of business and professional people who evolved out of...
CHAPTER 3. “Joe Doakes” in Beaumont
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"Joe Doakes” is a figure well known in American culture: He is “the ordinary Joe,” “Joe Blow,” and “GI Joe.” He (or she) is the hard hat in the factory, the lineman on the football team, the dogface in the army—generally he does the hardest work and receives the smallest paycheck. During World War II, “Willy and Joe” of the Bill Mauldin...
CHAPTER 4. White Golf, Black Golf
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When Fayson, Griffin, and the others filed suit against the city of Beaumont, they had a two-fold purpose: They wanted to play golf at the municipal course, and they wanted to start dismantling the southern caste system in their hometown. In a strategic sense...
CHAPTER 5. Crusading Lawyers
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To break the color line at Tyrrell Park, Booker Fayson and his fellow golfers hired two black lawyers, Theodore R. Johns and Elmo R. Willard III. They were young men in the summer of 1955, Johns being twenty-seven and Willard only twenty-four. Also, they were newcomers to the local legal fraternity. Johns had...
CHAPTER 6. Lawyer Lamar Cecil
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During the summer of 1955, Lamar Cecil suffered serious health problems, including hypertension and others, but otherwise he had many reasons to feel good about himself. He had a lovely and affluent wife, three handsome children, a comfortable home, ample income, private club memberships, and...
CHAPTER 7. Republican Lamar Cecil
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After his surgery, Lamar Cecil resumed his busy life, attending to his family, working in his law firm, and enjoying himself at the clubs. But somehow he found time and energy to pursue a new interest—Republican Party politics. Texas then was controlled entirely by the Democratic Party, at all governmental...
CHAPTER 8. Judge Lamar Cecil
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After the 1952 Eisenhower victory, Lamar Cecil continued working in the law business, but he also capitalized on his newfound power in the Republican Party. He played the patronage game, exploiting and cultivating new friendships to get benefits for himself and fellow Republicans. In June, 1953,...
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Six months after winning the desegregation of Central and Tyrrell Parks, lawyers Theo Johns and Elmo Willard returned to the court of Judge Lamar Cecil and renewed their attack on the southern caste system. This time they went after a bigger prize—the desegregation of Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont, Texas....
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 16 b&w photos.
Publication Year: 2005
Series Title: Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University