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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Margaret Carter, October 25, 1975. Interview A-0309-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Race as a factor in Texas political campaigns during the mid-twentieth century

Unlike many other politicians and lawyers, Carter's husband tried to treat the African American clients he had with respect. Carter describes the effect this had on his law practice. Later in the interview, Carter talks about how their membership in the NAACP was used by their political opponents.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Margaret Carter, October 25, 1975. Interview A-0309-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Well, on that same question, how did the people who were beginning to form the core of the liberal group in Ft. Worth feel on the racial question? Or was this even a viable issue at that time?
MARGARET CARTER:
Not very, but by 1944 when my husband ran for county chairman, the decision which required the Democrats to take whites …
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
You mean the Smith vs. Allwright decision?
MARGARET CARTER:
Yes, came down from the Supreme Court when I traveled in '45 and '46 for the Young Democrats, which I did do, we ran into various opinions among the county chairmen whether this Smith vs. Allwright decision would be followed, but we were already far ahead of the community practice in that area. Of course, that was where my Quaker background came in and my husband was just decent. The kind of people who were found in his law office were of all colors because he had very poor people for clients and he was uninfluential he didn't know any rich people. He didn't look at their color, he looked at their problem. That was a very unusual thing and it cost him the possibility of developing a middle-class clientele of whites. White people wouldn't sit down in the same waiting room with a black person. So, we were already ahead of community practice about race relations.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Was he relatively unique so far as white lawyers went in this resepct in Ft. Worth? Were there very many?
MARGARET CARTER:
So far as I know. I am sure that there were some white lawyers who had occasional black clients, because there were no black lawyers, in town, but they made it a back-door business. They didn't invite their white clients into the same entrance as their black clients and he just treated them the same and anyone who had a good reason to need a lawyer, he helped.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
And so in 1944, this was the same year that the Texas Regulars were trying to unseat Roosevelt?
MARGARET CARTER:
That's true.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Was that an issue in Ft. Worth?
MARGARET CARTER:
It was the issue of the race for county chairman.