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The Struggle for Power

THERE MAY NEVER be enough black votes to control city politics, but the new, aggressive breed of black leaders like Elsie Faye Heggins has found they can shake city hall by its foundations.
By Steve Kenny |

ELSIE FAYE HEGGINS LOOKS MORE like the stereotypical image of a rich man’s maid than the born politician she actually is. She doesn’t do the type of politicking that would satisfy representatives from other sections of the city, and her conduct often doesn’t fall within the limits of Robert’s Rules of Order.

But the way the second-term city councilwoman wheels and deals in the council chambers is exactly what a good portion of South Dallas wants her to do. To be sure, much of South Dallas is appalled by her antics, but not the great majority.

Her opponents Both on and off the council have questioned her effectiveness, but she is pleased with what she’s done. She thinks she has accomplished what she set out to do two years ago – to make the city council a forum for grievances of a community long neglected by city leaders.

“The reason they don’t like me is that I’m in the way of this agenda that they’ve set up for themselves in private,” Mrs. Heg-gins says. “I don’t catch it all, but there’s a lot that goes on down there. I run across things, and then I bring them up in public. They don’t like that.”

Privately, several of her colleagues say that Mrs. Heggins has actually done more harm than good for South Dallas interests because she has antagonized white political leaders and the city manager’s office. These critics also point to Mrs. Heggins’ “cheering section” – a group of her supporters that include Al “The Lip” Lipscomb, Bill Stoner, and L.B. Jackson (who many accuse of being the real power behind Mrs. Heggins) -as troublemakers who disrupt council meetings.

They attend almost every council meeting, feeding Mrs. Heggins controversial questions, acting as supporting players to her star act. It’s quite effective and plays well on the six o’clock news.

The cheering section also acts as Mrs. Heggins’ shock troops at committee hearings. At a recent City Thoroughfare Commission meeting, Stoner and Lipscomb almost brought the house down predicting race riots if the commission didn’t approve changing the names of four South Dallas streets to honor black leaders.

Back in late 1978, Mrs. Heggins and her cheering section were much less visible. In fact, the overwhelming odds were stacked against the small band of black political mavericks who gathered in a little white frame house in South Dallas and plotted to take over city hall.

Their scheme wasn’t to be an armed revolt. No guns, no marches, no threats of violence, no broken windows. Instead, they planned a political ambush on the Dallas establishment. The strategists would operate the established way -through the ballot box. But if they were successful, the strategists hoped, their victory would be as revolutionary as an armed uprising.

At the head of this band of strategists was a 50-year-old housewife and real estate broker whose unbroken string of political defeats did not bode well for the success of the plot. In the fall of 1978, Mrs. Heggins donned her trademark straight brown synthetic wig and called a press conference to announce her candidacy for the Dallas City Council. City leaders weren’t impressed with her chances of actually winning.

Mrs. Heggins had already lost an at-large race for the Dallas Independent School District board in 1972. She had helped manage the unsuccessful 1971 mayoral race of Al Lipscomb. Mrs. Heggins’ tenure on the board of the Martin Luther King Community Center was her most prominent civic achievement. But Mrs. Heggins and her band of supporters believed she could win the District 6 (South Dallas) seat, despite her lack of experience. Her victory could be a turning point; she would be the first black on the city council with no ties -and no debts -to the white establishment.

Mrs. Heggins had lost the 1977 city council race to political matriarch Juanita Craft, a legend in South Dallas who already had a recreation center named in her honor. But two years had turned the Dallas political world on its head. The U.S. Justice Department refused to approve the old alignment of council district seats -after the council setup was challenged in federal court by Mrs. Heggins and her supporters. They led the fight for more minority representation on the 11-member city council. The April 1979 election was delayed for months while the council thrashed out a new plan.

In the interim, Juanita Craft decided to retire from the city council after serving three terms that capped her half-century of civil rights work in Dallas.

As long as Mrs. Craft, at the time the most revered woman in South Dallas, remained on the council, no challenger had a chance. When she announced her retirement, five persons took advantage of the opportunity and announced their candidacy.

It wasn’t expected to be much of a race. Mrs. Craft had hand-picked Mabel White, another real estate broker, to take her place in the realigned District 6, which is 81 per cent black and includes almost all of South Dallas and 10 precincts in Oak Cliff. The early money heavily favored Mrs. White, who was endorsed by former Mayor Pro Tern George Allen and more than 12 South Dallas Democratic precinct chairmen. Mrs. White also had the benefit of generous campaign contributions from downtown business leaders and the political wizardry of Judy Bonner Amps, who organized the 1979 bond campaign and whose firm recently engineered Jack Evans’ bid for mayor.

Mrs. White was so confident of a victory in the January 1980 elections that she even listed herself in the Dallas white pages as “Councilwoman-Elect Mabel White.”

Much to the “councilwoman-elect’s” surprise, it was Mrs. Heggins who walked into the city council chambers in March 1980. She had been there many times before to protest city policies toward South Dallas. She had been branded a troublemaker who didn’t know how a big city like Dallas was run and who certainly didn’t have any business taking part in its operations.

This time, however, Mrs. Heggins wasn’t storming to the visitors’ podium to lambaste an almost all-white city council that rarely “listened to that loudmouthed lady from South Dallas,” as she puts it. This time, Mrs. Heggins, the victor in the tightest race in city council history, was sauntering confidently to her seat in the semicircle reserved for council members. She had won her seat over Mrs. White by an 18-vote majority.

The victory was hardly a mandate, but it was enough. It was a start that even Mrs. Heggins had hardly believed possible during that first planning session more than a year before.

Mrs. Heggins’ first victory was in March 1980. A year later, the strategists and their friends met in a white-frame bungalow on Pennsylvania Street, not far from the site of that first planning session in 1978. The April 1981 gathering was considerably more boisterous than during that first hopeful meeting. For it wassomething of a political coming-out party for Elsie Faye Heg-gins. She had arrived as a power in Dallas politics.

Gone was the 18-vote stigma that had nagged Mrs. Heggins during her first term on the city council. Gone were the doubts – even among Heggins supporters – that next time the big business leaders downtown and the political movers and shakers of the Citizens Council would be able to use their power to deny Elsie Faye Heggins a seat on the council.

Her victory margin on April 4 was more than 2 to 1. It was as if the voters of South Dallas had picked up Mrs. Heggins, lifted her onto their shoulders, and paraded her into the city council chambers. An embittered Mabel White, a loser for the second time, vowed never again to run for political office.

Four days later, Elsie Faye Heggins was in the midst of yet another meeting. This time, she was in a meeting of the Dallas City Council. She was sitting hunched over her seat in the city council chambers, staring calmly ahead.

She seemed not to hear the harangues of city council colleague Max Goldblatt, who moments before had been called a racist by supporters of Mrs. Heggins. They were mad that Goldblatt had voted against changing the name of Forest Avenue, South Dallas’ main street, to Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Mrs. Heggins had been in these situations before. In her year on the city council, she had been belittled, yelled at, and ignored by almost every member of the city council. But this time was different. During her first term, she counterattacked, name-called, and fought back every step of the way. But now she didn’t have to. She could sit quietly while the others did the sniping. She didn’t have to be on the defensive anymore. Mrs. Heggins, for once, was strangely quiet. Even knowing that there would be other times that she’ll have to raise her voice in council chambers, on that Wednesday, Mrs. Heggins was joyful.

It had been less than a week since she soundly defeated Mabel White for the second time. She returned to the city council chambers for a second term, but this time she had a sound mandate from the voters of South Dallas.

This time, the city and its power brokers had better be ready to deal with Elsie Faye Heggins, because what they saw in her last term is nothing compared to what they’re going to see in the next two years, if Mrs. Heggins has her way.

“I knew I would not be supported by the establishment,” she says gleefully of her resounding victory. “I knew they would do everything they could to defeat me. I knew they thought they were going to defeat me, so I fooled them. They can’t fool around with Elsie Faye Heggins.”

Mrs. Heggin’s victory over Mrs. White April 4 was one of the major surprises in the recent municipal elections.

For more than a year, Mrs. Heggins’ critics had been sniping at her. Her colleagues chided her in public, and Mayor Robert Fol-som insulted her at city council meetings week after week. In the meantime, the downtown business and political forces that had supported Mrs. White in her first campaign were gearing up for a bigger and better fight they were sure would dethrone Mrs. Heggins. With all the bad publicity, with all the times that Mrs. Heggins had been in trouble with the mayor, they felt sure of success.

But they didn’t win. The downtown political campaign backfired. All those times that Mrs. Heggins was put down by the mayor and criticized in the press were remembered by the voters in South Dallas. Support from Robert Folsom may help Rolan Tucker get elected from North Dallas, but in many precincts in South Dallas, Folsom’s support is the political kiss of death. And all those times Folsom belittled Mrs. Heggins’ competence in front of television cameras during city council meetings, he simply reinforced the notion of thousands of South Dallas voters that Elsie Faye Heggins was the type of representative they wanted.

At the same time, Mrs. Heggins brilliantly pinned a “society lady” label on Mabel White. Mrs. White fought the image that she was the white establishment’s black candidate, but all Mrs. Heggins had to do was publish a list of Mrs. White’s campaign contributors to sign Mrs. White’s political death warrant. In her two campaigns for city council, Mrs. White received contributions from electronics magnate H. Ross Perot, Robert Folsom’s attorney, and political action committees representing Dallas attorneys, Realtors, and homebuilders.

Mrs. White countered with charges that Mrs. Heggins was a combative, belligerent representative who did her SouthDallas constituents more harm than good in a city government that was built on consensus and compromise in private and united action in public.

It was a classic contest between the old-style politics of South Dallas and the emerging coalition that Mrs. Heggins and her supporters are trying to build for the future. In the end, Mrs. Heggins and her new-style politics won.

Mrs. Heggins’ 1981 victory was important to South Dallas for two reasons. First, it put Dallas leaders, particularly new Mayor Jack Evans, on notice that South Dallas wouldn’t go along to get along with the downtown powers that be. Her victory also destroyed once and for all the prevailing notion among politicians and the news media that black Dallas is a homogenous community centered around a small group of spokesmen who seldom rock the boat.

Elsie Faye Heggins and her supporters are different. They are unaccommodating, even hostile, to the white leadership. They have no connections to white leaders. Mrs. Heggins’ overwhelming victory in 1981 represents a revolt by a cross section of South Dallas voters who had not been reached by Juanita Craft and who had little in common with former city council member Lucy Patterson, a university professor.

For 25 years, South Dallas had been led by select leaders, all now facing retirement, who were catered to by the press and political power brokers. They had come of age when the major concerns of black Dallas residents were getting the vote and riding at the front of the bus – when racism was visible and legal.

THE SOUTH DALLAS-CITY HALL COALITION that Mrs. Heggins unraveled in 1980 and 1981 was conceived during the uncertain days of black protests in the mid-Fifties. Like Mrs. Heggins’ political insurgency a quarter century later, this earlier political upset began in a meeting.

The meeting wasn’t held in a small house in South Dallas. It convened in the boardroom of the Times Herald. The year was 1957, two years after Martin Luther King had enflamed much of the South with his call for equal rights for black citizens.

While other cities – Montgomery, Birmingham, Atlanta, and even Houston -were erupting in racial violence, protest marches, and sit-ins, Dallas slumbered along, forcing its black population (then about 20 per cent) to live as they had since the end of the Civil War.

In January 1957, blacks in Dallas still had to sit at the back of the bus. They could not use restroom facilities in downtown stores. They weren’t allowed to try on merchandise or make returns once clothing was tried on. Restaurants would not serve them; real estate agents would not deal with them. Black residents weren’t even allowed to attend the State Fair of Texas except during a specially designated “Negro Day.” And on that day, whites weren’t admitted to Fair Park.

Dallas and its leaders hadn’t ignored the civil rights struggle, and racial violence hadn’t completely bypassed the city, either. In the early Fifties, South Dallas, a predominantly white area, began “turning.” Large numbers of blacks were moving to the city, attracted by the promise of jobs. (Among them was a young bride named Elsie Faye Heggins, who moved to Dallas in 1945 from rural Cherokee County in East Texas.)

As the blue-collar whites along Pine Street, Pennsylvania, and Metropolitan fought to keep their neighborhoods all white, they resorted to bombings. The bombs didn’t stop black immigration to South Dallas, however, which was the home of the largest black high school (Lincoln) and was close to jobs.

The violence caused by the neighborhood shift didn’t trouble the ruling elite, which was then an all-white, all-male city council, elected city-wide, but chosen behind closed doors. There were no single-member districts.

New neighborhoods were opening up daily north of the Park Cities and north and east of East Dallas. They were bastions of white security, unimpregnable to blacks. So it was no shock to most of white Dallas that by 1957, South Dallas was predominantly black.

By 1957, however, there was other news in the black community disturbing to whites. Members of the NAACP were rumored to be coming to Dallas to conduct a “school for sit-ins” to protest segregation. In the best Dallas tradition, a behind-closed-doors meeting was organized to handle the problem. If you lived in Dallas at that time, you didn’t read about the meeting, even though the papers were well-informed.

Mayor R.L. Thornton organized the meeting with the cooperation of the all-white Citizens Council. Not all of the white leaders approved of integrated public facilities, but they saw them as inevitable. Peaceful integration was preferable to the sit-ins and boycotts that had plagued cities throughout the South. And the word was out on the streets of South Dallas that Roy Wilkins, the NAACP’s executive secretary, was coming to Dallas to personally conduct the sit-ins.

In traditional Dallas style, Mayor Thornton and the Citizens Council organized the secret meeting to work out the plan to integrate department stores, city buses, restaurants, and public restroom facilities. The meeting was by invitation only, of course, and the blacks who attended were hand-picked by white business and political leaders.

Among the men invited to the gathering was George Allen, then an insurance executive in Oak Cliff. He later became the second black man elected to the city council. Allen is now an Oak Cliff justice of the peace.

“Word got to the establishment boys about the sit-ins, and they invited 12 or 15 blacks to the boardroom of the Times Herald,” Allen recalls. “Boy, they had the big guns there, most of the Dallas Citizens Council was there.

“They said, ’Don’t you think we could stave off sit-ins and the violence that accompanies sit-ins by forming an interracial group of leaders and have conversation and dialogue between the two groups on a fairly regular basis until the situation is settled?’ “

The first meeting organized an ad hoc committee of seven white men and seven black men who met each Tuesday in the executive conference room of Mayor Thornton’s Mercantile National Bank until the problem was resolved.

The black representatives, who were chosen at a meeting of black leaders in the old Moorland YMCA in North Dallas, included Allen, C.J. Clark (founder of Black & Clark Funeral Home), several members of the powerful Dallas Ministerial Alliance, and others.

“The blacks’ job was to try and contain the more rabid, militant blacks who wanted to go forth with sit-ins anyhow, in order to give our white counterparts the opportunity to work with the white businesses to open these places, to drop the bars of segregation, and let blacks in,” says Al1en.

The entire group decided on a date in April 1957 on which the seven black men sent squads of black men and women to patronize the downtown stores at noon.

“We had the responsibility of finding enough blacks to patronize each one of these places at high noon, not nine o’clock in the morning or four o’clock in the afternoon, but at high noon, when the majority of people are in these places,” Allen recalls. “We wanted the impact to be great. We wanted everyone to know, so that if one white couple decided they didn’t want to eat in this dining room or lunch counter with a black, and they go across the street, they’re going to find them there, too.”

The committee’s plan worked, though the change was not completely peaceful. Small groups did decide to picket recalcitrant segregationist stores and restaurants like the Piccadilly Cafeteria on Commerce Street, which did not integrate until required to do so by federal law in 1964. But the disturbances were minor. They scarcely received a mention in either Dallas paper during the late Fifties. While other cities had men like King and Wilkins leading the fight for integration in the streets and at the lunch counters, black leaders in Dallas were negotiating at closed-door meetings.

“Once we were sitting in the Dallas Power & Light Company building in a meeting,” C.J. Clark remembers. “Across the street – at the Piccadilly Cafeteria -they were out there, too, pushing and fighting, and we were upstairs trying to get it settled. We told the people that we ought to wait, but they said they had waited long enough. They tried to take it in their own hands.”

Juanita Craft wasn’t invited to join the all-male ad hoc committee. But she was playing a historic role in the desegregation of Dallas. Mrs. Craft was an employee of the NAACP, and at one time, she was considered as radical a political figure as Elsie Faye Heggins. (The two women can’t abide each other now.) Like Dallas’ other black leaders, Mrs. Craft worked through the system. She played a major role in the Sweatt case that abolished the all-Negro law school at the University of Texas, and for three months in 1957, she drove between Dallas and Tyler every day while NAACP lawyers fought an East Texas federal judge who had banned that group throughout the state.

Mrs. Craft quietly and effectively built up a following in South Dallas. She worked with youth groups, whose members later grew up and bepame campaign volunteers, financial backers, and voters. They played a prominent role in her three victorious campaigns for the city council.

By the beginning of the Eighties, however, the old, black politicians had faded from prominence. Mrs. Craft, acknowledging that “the struggle isn’t over yet,” retired from the council in 1980 to concentrate on her youth groups and travels. Allen left the council to become a Dallas County justice of the peace. C.J. Clark, now retired from the funeral business, is in his eighties and lives a quiet life in a large house on South Boulevard. He never ran for political office, despite his prominence in South Dallas affairs.

As these old-time leaders faded from the scene, they left no trained political heirs to take their places. The Crafts and Aliens had come up through the system fighting for basic civil rights, a struggle that did not affect the new generation, who remained untried and untrained and with little political support among South Dallas voters. These new voters did not worry about sitting in the front of the bus or being allowed to eat at an integrated lunch counter.

By the time 1980 elections came around, South Dallas voters were ready for a change. Juanita Craft and George Allen were gone. Mrs. White might have the support of the large middle-class community in South Dallas, but among the poor residents- the newcomers from East Texas rural communities, the residents of the Trinity River bottoms who are flooded out each spring, and the residents of the teeming housing projects – she is a “society lady.”

From the start, Mrs. White’s campaign was doomed by an epitaph laid down years ago by Clark, who despite his involvement in Dallas politics, knew where he stood with white leaders.

“They always let us know that niggers had a place: ’You stay in your place, we’ll help you.’”

By 1980, the voters and a new generation of black leaders were no longer willing to stay in their place. And Elsie Faye Heggins, never noted for being timid, was ready to ride the wave of the future.

AT THE MOMENT, SHE IS RIDING A CREST of popular sentiment. Her campaign headquarters, open year-round, is located just behind the Martin Luther King Community Center, which besides South Dallas churches, is the one unifying point in South Dallas life.

Mrs. Heggins’ battered white Chevrolet, plastered with fluorescent green Elsie Faye bumper stickers, is on the streets often. She keeps the window open and shouts greetings to passersby. When she gets out of her car, people on the street go out of their way to greet her, to encourage her. Wherever Mrs. Heggins goes, a “Give ’em hell, Elsie Faye” attitude seems to follow. It would take a staggering leap of the imagination to believe North Dallas voters greet Rolan Tucker or Joe Haggar in a similar manner.

“We’ve done more for South Dallas than any group I can remember,” she says. “Little things, like getting lights for South Central Expressway. Changing street names seems like a little thing to do, but it is the only thing the city council has done in years that will give the community a sense of dignity and pride and respect. But they didn’t go far enough. [Only Forest Avenue will be renamed. The new names for Julius Schepps Freeway, Oakland Avenue, and State Highway 352 were all defeated.]

“This last council was awful. They made a record like no city council in history for our contentions about single-member districts. We noticed it, and we’re going to continue to fight the at-large system if we have to. (Three of the 11 council seats are elected at large.) In every case in this last council, the at-large councilmen voted against the people.”

She’s hopeful about the new council, especially new Mayor Jack Evans. “Evans listens, and this is important. Folsom was Folsom. I think he didn’t understand that I was sincere.”

Despite her controversial image, Mrs. Heggins sees herself as a new generation of councilwoman, more tied to her community than councilmen in the past. “You have me, Fred Blair, Ricardo Medrano, and Lee Simpson. I think we’re all more rooted in our communities.”

Blair, the deputy mayor pro tern and the only other black councilman, operates quite differently than Mrs. Heggins, and he is generally more respected by his fellow councilmen. But he has supported Mrs. Heggins in the face of criticism.

“I’m more of a watchman for the people than he is,” she says. “Other people who live outside the district want to control what’s going down here. Neglect has been the rule in South Dallas. Public housing is in deplorable condition. Some people, even black people, have wanted to bring out the bulldozers, and that’s just wrong.

“The poor and low-income people can live out their lives here, and no one will pay a bit of attention to them unless someone stands up and makes some noise. I tell our people we have to stand shoulder to shoulder so that we aren’t going to be pushed around anymore.

“I think with this last election, we’ve gotten more people involved in politics in this part of the city than ever before in history,” Mrs. Heggins says. “People want me to continue to speak out on the issues, and that’s what I plan to do. That’s what people tell me to do every day of my life. And I’m going to do it, too.”

Mrs. Heggins is careful to cover her political bases. She holds weekly meetings at the Martin Luther King Community Center. Dozens of constituents attend every week, filling Mrs. Heggins in on their grievances. She loads neighborhood mailboxes with her literature. There is not a man, woman, or child above the age of six in the area who doesn’t know that Elsie Faye Heggins represents South Dallas.

She has been criticized about the money she spends on those mailings, an amount that is 10 times the total spent by any other city council members. But Mrs. Heggins just shrugs off such criticisms. The mailings are the way she serves her constituents, and if they help her get reelected, so much the better.

“I’m not a wealthy woman, and my district is not wealthy,” she says. “Those mailings are the only way that my constituents can find out what’s happening in city hall. Most of them don’t read the newspapers, they don’t watch local news. They have to be informed some way.

“The people who don’t like me are just mad because they are not used to grappling with the issues that concern the black community in public. That’s their problem, not mine. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing as a single-member district council member. I really hated to clash with Mayor Folsom during the last year. But I think he was going to drive me into a corner and give me a bad record.”

Folsom is gone now, and Elsie Faye Heggins has relaxed just a little. But she is still Elsie Faye. Along with Blair, her quiet but equally effective partner from Oak Cliff, she may have ushered in a new era of black politics in Dallas.

Urban planners doubt that Dallas will ever have a majority of black voters. The Park Cities effectively block the growth of minority neighborhoods north of Northwest Highway. Much of North Dallas (north of LBJ Freeway) also is outside the Dallas Independent School District, which will keep white homeowners there from fleeing the declining public school system for suburban refuges.

Blacks may never have the numbers for political dominance, but if Elsie Faye Heg-gins has anything to say about it, the problems of the minority communities will never be put on the back burner to the demands of North Dallas or a white-controlled downtown business establishment.

As Mrs. Heggins says, without a hint ofmodesty, to her supporters, “In the past,this area has been completely neglected.But then, before, there wasn’t an ElsieFaye Heggins to stand up for what wasright.”

Why Dallas Has No Black Congressman

DALLAS IS THE SEVENTH LARGEST CITY IN the nation. It is also the largest city without a black representative in Congress. That’s mainly because the black neighborhoods in South Dallas, Oak Cliff, and West Dallas have been split into separate congressional districts to suit the game plans of white Democrats. And it is because of the white Democrats that the Dallas black community -which makes up 25 per cent of the population of Dallas County -will remain divided between two white Democratic congressmen until at least 1990.

The Texas Legislature began redistricting Dallas County this spring after the 1980 Census data was released. It would be easy to create a predominantly black congressional district in Southeast Dallas, but to do so would jeopardize the chances of a Democrat being reelected in Jim Mattox’s 5th district or Martin Frost’s 24th district. Ironically, the supporters of an all-black congressional district for Dallas County are liberal blacks and conservative Republicans.

The legislature has mulled over a plan, proposed by Republicans, that would divorce the heavily black (and Democratic) precincts of South Dallas from the rest of Mattox’s district and the equally heavy black precincts in East Oak Cliff from Frost’s district to create a new congressional district dominated by blacks.

Democrats -who still hold sway in the legislature, although not in the Dallas County delegation – are opposed to the plan. They’re afraid that by removing black Democrats from the twodistricts, they would inadvertantly create two districts with Republican majorities. Although the Democrats would gain one presumably black Democrat in the House, they would be in danger of losing two white Democrats.

Former City Councilwoman Lucy Patterson and political activist John Wiley Price (who has organized the Coalition for Minority Representation of blacks and Mexican-Americans) have lobbied Dallas County legislators in support of a predominantly black district. But their arguments don’t have much punch with the representatives in Austin.

Even Lanell Cofer, Paul Ragsdale, and Sam Hudson, the three black Texas House members from Dallas, have not been actively twisting arms for a U.S. House district carried from South Dallas. The reason: Blacks still need to play ball with the white Democratic majority to get what they need in the Texas Legislature.

“Black leadership in Austin is not united enough to fight for their maximum representation,” says one state legislator from Dallas. “They don’t throw their weight around enough.”

Redistricting this year is a repeat of the fight of 10 years ago, when Democrats killed plans for a minority-dominated district in south Dallas County. Ultimately, the failure of the Texas Legislature to create a minority district in Dallas County hinders the assimilation of black voters in political affairs.

“It isn’t representative government when you have a community as concentrated as Dallas’ blacks are and not let them vote for themselves,” a local Republican says. “The Democrats are just using the black voters to keep white Democrats in office.”

And the Republicans are, of course, attempting to use theblacks to keep Democrats out of office. – S.K.