Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Maury Maverick, October 27, 1975. Interview A-0323. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

On the future of white liberals in Texas

Maverick discusses the evolving role of the "white liberal" in Texas politics during the mid-1970s. According to Maverick, the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s had generated a trend in which African American and Chicano citizens not only voted in higher volume, but also increasingly voted for candidates of their own race or ethnicity. Maverick ultimately contends that he saw that trend as a positive thing, but also expresses some lingering resentment of that process as "reverse Jim Crow" that made it difficult for someone such as himself to seek election to public office.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Maury Maverick, October 27, 1975. Interview A-0323. 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

You just suggested a minute ago that Bob would make a fine President of the United States. He doesn't seem to have that ambition, though, does he?
Well, a lot of people who would make a good President of the United States know that they can't be President. I think that I would make a good appellate justice, a federal appellate justice, but I'm not ever going to get to be one. Bob is realistic. He said that he would rather "hang from the tit of his Congressional district in Harris County than cling to the cold bosom of Texas." That probably is a realistic thing and it's probably the truth. He couldn't go anywhere in Texas, I don't think. They would do a job on him and they may do a job on him in Houston before it's all over. His great threat is that some member of the minority is going to run against him and polish him off like they polished me off in Bexar County. The white Anglo-liberal in the South is going to more and more become a gadfly and he is going to have to understand that about himself. That's important. That's all right. I'm a gadfly and I understand that role, but now that the Supreme Court has said that you run in smaller legislative districts instead of countywide, the blacks are going to elect blacks for another hundred years and the browns are going to elect browns. Where in the hell is a white liberal going to get elected in the smaller races in Texas? There is nowhere in Bexar County that I can run. I don't have a constituency anymore. That wiped out, I think, the white liberals in the smaller races in Texas.
So far as electoral politics goes?
Yes. It may be all right, because it is right for blacks and browns to have their own liberals and it's o.k., but I think that the white liberal has to understand that about himself and not worry about it, sort of be like Wayne Morse was when he got in and not worry every five minutes about being reelected and understand that you are not and go on and play your role.
Do you think that for the middle-aged white liberal that is a role that he can accept gracefully, to give his electoral base to the minorities?
Well, he will act like he is graceful about it. I am not so damn gracious about it now in the deep recesses of my heart because I think that I would be a better legislator than some of the blacks and browns. I'm getting a little reverse Jim Crow and I don't like it and hell, I don't have to like it just because I'm white and Protestant, I don't have to like it. I would at least like to get beaten for the right reasons if I am going to get beaten. I think that is a phase that we are going to go through.