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Harrington / Political Climate in Michigan vs. Texas - History

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Arionus : Can you compare your understanding of the political climate in Texas as compared to Michigan? Harrington : It was night and day. Michigan at the time was democratic populism. Even the Republicans were moderate compared to what you have in Texas. And Michigan republican would be more progressive than a Texas Democrat. So in Texas it was still very much go to a boy system right. And of course Texas has a horrible history of oppression and brutality than Michigan. Michigan good night and thanks nights, not that Michigan is perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but to compare the two like I said it is night and day. Arionus : Especially since Michigan doesn’t have the Texas rangers? Harrington : Michigan did not have the Texas Rangers. You know, what happened after the Civil War in Texas we ended up with a populist progressive constitution that really franchise black and brown people. It was not an alliance of love with the black and brown community but it was for protection. The Texas Rangers and blacks or browns United against the railroads and big corporations. So believe it or not Texas had a fairly progressive voting system. What happened of course what is that eventually whites thought there were too many people of color in the legislature. Blacks particularly voted, have a Lee, like 90%, very heavily in the legislature. Of course that meant they elected people because whites didn’t have that kind of participation. So then you had the emergence of the clan. Their whole agenda basically was to suppress any advancement of the black community. So that is going on in East Texas. And then what’s going on in South Texas and West Texas, as the Texas rangers are doing the same thing. Just incredible brutality. There are stories and even photographs of them shooting people in the back in the valley. They are even so bad there are corillos us about them. It was really, you had the vigilantes the KKK and then you had the legal vigilantes that were the Texas Rangers. Just awful history. Of course Texas tries to rewrite it’s history, the people controlling Texas right now. Do you think these folks are terrific or heroes. They were important for law and order to be sure but as the saying goes power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is exactly what went on with the Rangers. Arionus : So you moved to Texas and you were making $5000 a year working in the community. How did race relations compare to what you saw in Michigan to what you saw in Texas? It seems to me there might be because of the nature of Mexican Americans and act like Mexicans were they treated differently then perhaps African Americans in Michigan or African Americans in Texas? Harrington : Well, of course the north despite what it thinks about it self is no Nirvana on race. It is better generally but in some respects Texas is better don’t let me forget to come back and talk about that. So, the Michigan was more progressive there’s no doubt about that in terms of race. But this is true for the mid west people tend to be more tolerant I think. Have that streak of progressive is him. But, what you did notice in the north, and this is true in Texas, that any discrimination against African-Americans as more intense than it is against Hispanics. You will see more intermarriage for example between whites and Hispanics or Mexicanos because it’s more acceptable. So and the other thing, this is part of my idealism, I was really shocked to see that there was race issues between Hispanics and blacks. You think that everybody has a past all to be together. But of course that is the way capitalism works is that it divides and conquerors. Makes poor whites Think that the only way of protecting what they have is by discriminating against blacks and Hispanics. You do that by keeping everybody divided, so I was quite shocked about that. I see that reality. But now of course in retrospect it makes sense. See that is part of living in the community, I would have never pick that up if I had not lived in the community. Some of the chisme that goes on. Then try to understand what that’s about. And a lot of it is cultural difference. That’s the problem we are made to be intolerant of cultural differences.

Interview Interview with Jim Harrington
Subjects Citizenship › Voting and Voter Registration
Race Relations
Discrimination or Segregation
White Resistance to Civil Rights › Extrajudicial Violence › Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
Police and Law Enforcement › Texas Rangers
Electoral Politics
Electoral Politics › Democratic Party
Electoral Politics › Republican Party
Historic Periods
Historic Periods › 1970s [Exact Date Unknown]
Ideology › Liberalism
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Interview date 2016-06-13
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Harrington, Jim
Locations Texas
Lansing, MI
Duration 00:06:41
Citation "Political Climate in Michigan vs. Texas - History ," from Jim Harrington oral history interview with ,  June 13, 2016, Austin, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed November 30, 2022