Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bitterness Grows Over Many Years

Brownsboro Feud

Bitterness Grows Over Many Years

By Sue Connally
News Staff Writer

Brownsboro, Texas - Since the WPA built the redstone school house on the hill here, back in the depression days, the school has been Brownsboro’s largest employer. 

The bitterness that erupted in a blaze of gunfire Thursday has been simmering a long time. 

With a payroll of 30 to 40 people, Brownsboro is the largest consolidated school in Henderson County. The students in its classrooms come from homes where truck farming is the major industry. Several of their parents hold jobs in nearby Tyler. 

An uneasy quiet settled on the community Friday. Heavily armed Texas Rangers were watching closely. They clustered around the city square. They plan to remain in Brownsboro “indefinitely” said Ranger Capt. Clint Peoples, who came over from Waco. He disclaimed reports that Brownsboro residents had been ordered off the streets. But the streets of the East Texas farming community were strangely and deathly quiet. 

In the school’s study hall, no one had bothered to straighten the chairs that had fallen, nor wipe away the blood. 

This room was where the bloody drama was played Thursday night. Petitions were scheduled to be studied by the board. More than half of the eligible voters had asked that the board resign. 

Many of the signers were in the audience. They were resentful that the board, several weeks ago, had fired Superintendent H. D. Bass, who had been hired almost automatically for 23 previous years. 

Several in the audience were Negro parents of students who attended the separate school in the district - Bullock High School - 10 miles south of Brownsboro. It was named for Jessie B. Bullock, who had taught Negro students in the district for 30 years before her retirement. 

There never had been serious talk of integration, the ousted Superintendent Bass said Friday. 

But Negroes, resentful that the board had fired nine of the Negro teachers, were in the audience. And one said: “If they’re not rehired, we won’t have need for Bullock school next fall - we will send our children here to Brownsboro.”

No one would say, nor did they seem to understand, what caused the shooting to break out just when it did. Differences, everyone said, had just built up. 

Staring from behind the table where the board members sat, a sign in the room said: “Your High School Record . . . Will It Count For or Against You in Later Life?”

“I always got along well, I think, with everybody - Negro and white,” Bass said. “The Negroes, I will say this, have been very patient.”

He said the shooting “was senseless” and “killed a good man.”

The victim, Thurman Jackson, was a brother of the ousted superintendent’s brother-in-law. 

Downtown, as the sun blistered down on the lonely town, 70-year-old R. A. Parker confided: “I’m just gonna mind my own business.”

An uncle of school board member J. P. Parker who was involved in the bloody fracas said, “I ain’t never been to a school board meeting in my whole life and after what happened last night I know I ain’t never going to one in the future." 

Dallas Morning News 
June 18, 1960
Section 1, Page 9

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