Integration: Dallas, TX 1961

Remixing Rural Texas is largely influenced by Critical Race Theory which has been, in large part, created by activists and legal scholars like Derrick Bell, Patricia Williams and Mari Matsuda who are interested in the transformation of the relationship of race, racism and power. As defined by Richard Delgado in Critical Race Theory, “Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principals of constitutional law.”
A key debate within CRT is the issue of nationalism versus assimilation. Derrick Bell urged African Americans to abandon school integration and to focus on building black schools. In Dallas, TX, during the 1960’s, whites fought integration as seen here by the Tasby case. In the end, most Dallas schools continue to be highly segregated today.
In our first documentary, I Searched, one of the issues that we deal with is the reluctance of many leaders of institutions in the South to forced integration. As President Gee of ETSU noted in his desegregation speech, the university wanted to integrate quietly and with as little drama as possible. With the mass upheaval the nation experienced during the 1960’s that included marches, riots and police violence, there were many places that wanted to keep integration as peaceful and un-dramatic as possible. As the civil rights battles were fought largely in southern cities like Selma, Montgomery, Greensboro, it was also raging in larger cities around the nation. However, in Texas, civic leaders wanted integration to happen peacefully and with as little conflict as possible.
To demonstrate this notion to the people of Dallas, the film Dallas at the Crossroads was shown to white audiences in the area to encourage them to accept integration. The filmmakers stressed the issue of integration in terms of law and order as opposed to dealing with it as a moral issue. The film makes the firm point that if there were to be any sort of violence or resistance that the dissenters would be dealt with via the firm hand of the law. The leaders of Dallas saw integration as inevitable and they were priming the city to deal with the issue.

Note: Dallas at the Crossroads is seen in three parts

Dallas at the Crossroads, Part 1

Jennifer Jones