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Don Yarborough Political Telecasts (1964)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1964

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  •  Yarborough advocates for a national seashore park on Padre Island 
  •  Yarborough questions his opponent’s unwillingness to participate in a public debate 
  •  Yarborough believes that Texas is ready for an Independent governor 
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  • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
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This footage from 1964 features six political telecasts for the unsuccessful Texas gubernatorial campaign of Independent candidate Don Yarborough. In the telecasts, he attacks his opponent for refusing public debate, fights for a park on Padre Island, and stresses that Texas wants a governor who is not influenced by Washington politics and will stand up for Texas’ rights.
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.
Don Yarborough was a lawyer and liberal politician known for his interest in civil rights and for his multiple unsuccessful runs for governor of Texas. 
Yarborough was born in New Orleans on December 19, 1925, and had a humble upbringing in Louisiana and Mississippi at the height of the Great Depression. When he was 12, his parents, Don and Inez, moved the family to Houston. Following the end of World War II, Yarborough served in China with the US Marines and was impacted by the vast suffering he witnessed there, which may have influenced his interest in social justice that later drove his career. He graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1950 and briefly returned to the Marines as a judge advocate before starting his own law firm in Houston.
Yarborough’s interest in civic matters led him to politics, and he soon gained exposure for being one of the first Southern politicians to publicly support the Civil Rights Movement. His first attempt at holding office was a run for lieutenant governor of Texas in 1960, which he lost. Two years later, Yarborough ran for governor. He narrowly lost the Democratic nomination in a runoff election to John Connally, who went on to win the general election. Yarborough attempted to unseat Connally in the 1964 and 1968 elections, but was unsuccessful. 
After this last defeat, Yarborough returned to practicing law before becoming a Washington lobbyist. He turned his focus to funding medical research, especially for paraplegia, and he was also interested in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons with the Council for a Livable World. 
Yarborough died of Parkinson’s disease on September 23, 2009.