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Dallas at the Crossroads (1961)

Dallas Citizens Council

Sound | 1961

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Teach Texas
  •  Part 1 
  •  Part 2 
  •  Reminiscing about Dallas of yesteryear, with several historical photos 
  •  Southern Methodist University (SMU), Bishop Boulevard, Dallas Hall 
  •  Footage of the 1958 tornado 
  •  Footage of desegregation protests at Little Rock, Arkansas 
  •  Footage of desegregation protests in New Orleans 
  •  Dallas Morning News newsroom 
  •  Dallas Times Herald printing press 
  •  Former Dallas mayor Robert L. Thornton 
  •  Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry 
  •  Mayor Earle Cabell 
  •  MINISTER: We thank Thee o Lord for giving us, this our child, help us to set him good example in all we think, or say, or do. 
  •  ANNOUNCER: People are born in Dallas, the years that follow are filed with happiness and sadness 
  •  ANNOUNCER: This is your city, Dallas! 
  •  ANNOUNCER: Dallas is a man made town, and each man can find here an opportunity to make his life whatever he wants. We call our town Big D! Because our big hearted, open handed, both friendly and progressive 
  •  ANNOUNCER: Big D offers a place to work, to learn, to play, to worship. For each man to own his own castle and to achieve his own goals, Dallas is the finest home on earth to raise a family. You work here, you have your home here, you raise your children here, Dallas lives and prospers through you and her people. The life of her city and her citizens are inseparable. 
  •  ANNOUNCER: With the passage of time, the faces of cities, like the faces of people, change. 
  •  TEENAGER: We want, we expect, the face of Dallas to change. We just can’t believe our city, as perfect as it is. I remember Dallas, 20, 30, 50 years ago, just before, Main Street was a sea of mud. I can remember standing for hours in front of the old Opera House, watching an Armistice Day Parade. I can remember when the horse and the mule were man’s best friend. When to get to SMU was Texas mile across the prairie. When the tallest buildings in the town were the Medical Arts and the Magnolia Building. Dallas has never stopped changing between then and now. Oh there’s been lots of changes come over Dallas. Change has not always been easy. As we change the face of Dallas, it is our responsibly to see that it is changed for the better, for what we have created, we can also destroy. 
  •  WK: On April 2 nd, 1958, the face of Dallas was changed through natural disaster. A tornado appeared out of the blue, and for 40 minutes, Dallasites watched as it ravaged their city. Dallas was helpless to stop or prevent it, but Dallas rallied and recovered. Dallas is not alone in facing changes, of nature or of man, past and future, which affect the city and character. Other cities have faced, and faced recently, the same challenges that Dallas faced and faces. They have met these problems with violence. The face of violence is the face of hate unreason, cruelty, personal and civic irresponsibly. Their actions and their results speak in these films for themselves. 
  •  *INDISTINCT* …Get that white mob… *INDISTINCT...* I’ll be here till this crisis is over…getting that! 
  •  WK: This is the face of man-made destruction. Its counterpart is the face of fear, bewilderment, suffering physical and mental. This face could be a child’s face, your child’s face. The idea that children are the most deeply affected persons in times of disharmony and strife is born out from the Dallas county medical society’ whose spokesman is Dr. P.E. Lookey Jr. 
  •  DL: We wouldn’t knowingly hurt or frighten a child, and yet, we have seen, violence does frighten children. They become uncertain and insecure. When children are frightened and insecure, they look to their parents, or those they love and respect, for reassurance and guidance. We know from our wartime studies that children, when they go through bombings and violence, moving, cold and hunger, without any lasting affects if their parents were there. On the other hand, children taken from their parents, and moved to safer places, often became disturbed. Thus, we see that violence threatens children. The pain, anger, hysteria, and fear is disturbing to them. They look to their parents or loved ones for support. If these parents represent violence, or condone violence, the children become very upset and disturbed. Disturbed children are sick children. They may not look sick, or act sick but they are sick. 
  •  WK: Medicine explains the child’s need for security. Society must meet these needs and does so through the law. The law by which we live. From the county court of Judge Julian Haier, Dean J.W. Ream of the Southern Methodist University Law School defines “the Law.” 
  •  JH: The law is a system where the unfortunate stand as peer and equal with the most privileged. A court is a vehicle tested and refined over generations where two people, equal sure of their morality, bring their disputes and dispositions can be made based upon the facts and the law of their conflict so that each may continue to enjoy his rights and live together in the community with a mutual respect for each other’s position. Here the rules of organized society function. 
  •  RH: I’m Ralph Hartmann, member of the Dallas Bar Association; I meet my opponent in court here within these walls, where disputes are settled between our clients. I’m entitled to bring witnesses and to cross-examine my opponent’s witnesses. This is where the witness sits as he tells his facts to the jury. This is the jury, where they sit as they listen to the facts. My client’s opponent is also represented by a lawyer.  
  •  TH: I’m Tom Hartnet; I am also a member of the Dallas Bar Association. This is where we lawyers sit. We prosecute, we defend, we argue before a judge, elected by the people to stand impartially between myself and my opponent. The witnesses, who are layman, bring facts to the jury, who are layman. The jury determines the facts, his honor, the judge, then applies the law to the facts in rendering the decision. Violence cannot change a decision rendered within these laws. 
  •  JUDGE: Once a decision has been made, it is the law. On April 6 thof this year, the federal court decision became final that some degree of desegregation must, by law, begin in Dallas, in the schools, this fall. In spite of arguments, in spite of criticisms, in spite of personalities, the law is the law. Disagreement or dissatisfaction with the law should not, and must not be expressed by citizens with violence. In a democracy, there are always legal channels open to those who would be preferred to change the law. These are the methods that a good citizen uses, not with bats, and stones. 
  •  WK: On these principles, Dallas stands. On these principles, the leadership of Dallas is firm through the bar association, the medical society, the council of churches, the labor council, from its elected officials and its newspapers, Dallas has found many voices, but with a single message. 
  •  EC: Dallas is a good city, and we want to keep it that way. We need all of our citizens to accept their city and their personal responsibility and to stand up and be counted for law and order. We need your help and as your mayor, and speaking for your city council, we pledge our assistance in this program and earnestly hope to have yours. Together, we will show America, the Dallas way. 
  •  RELIGIOUS OFFICIAL: Basically, the responsibility for our children’s behavior lies with us. Parents, if your child is to respect the law and act as a good citizen, he must be able to follow your example. You must be a good citizen. 
  •  LABOR BOARD MEMBER: As a representative of 30,000 Dallas laboring people, I am instructed by our member to make it very clear and certain where we stand. Labor recognizes its responsibility to all Dallas citizens and the community as a whole. We highly value active, good citizenship, and recognize fully the good influence our city’s good name has on job opportunities and a prosperous economy. We understand that the maintenance of civil peace is necessary if Dallas is to keep her good name. Dallas indeed is a good place to live, to work, and to raise our families. You can count on the labor force to keep it so. 
  •  DALLAS NEWS EDITOR: The editorial policy of the Dallas News is to develop an atmosphere of non-violence. Nothing is gained by lawlessness. But a newspaper can do just so much. It can tell the people which way the cat is going to jump, and hope that the people will take care of the cat. So each of you is an editorial editor, and in your words and actions, you help create a public atmosphere of calm in this trying period. Remember, the pressure of public opinion is like the atmosphere, 16 pounds to the square inch. All of us are in this together in the same sense: all of us are opinion makers. 
  •  DALLAS TIMES-HERALD OWNER: As a responsible newspaper, the Times-Herald will not condone or tolerate a policy of actions of any individuals or group. We have only one basically elementary fact to face in preparation of desegregation in our public schools, it is simple, it is just, it is realistic, it is mandatory: Our people must maintain unqualified respect for law and order. 
  •  FORMER MAYOR: Violence affects the whole community, just not a few isolated segments of the school or business public. Violence not only disrupts business and education, it undermines the health and moral fiber of all citizens. Extremist elements and self-seeking individuals come into control, and the city’s children are forced to bear alone a burden which is rightfully and a direct responsibility. Every citizen has the privilege to live his life according to his own views so long as he acts within the law. In private ears, not related to the law, it is the right and responsibility of each individual family to establish his own values and personal standards. The wise parent prepares his child to accept and adjust to the changed schools situation and at the same time establish for his child the values for a private relationship. The person who a resort to violence is bad, a citizen who deserves the condemnation of his neighbors. He will be arrested as a lawbreaker. He will be deprived of the support and following of his neighbors. He will stand alone. 
  •  WK: There have been always a few individuals in any city whose cure-all has been violence. In Dallas, these few individuals will stand alone, if they do act, they will do so amidst a community of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens who know the problems of growth, and customs change by law, however else met and solved must be met peacefully. In this knowledge, and ion the actions of good citizens, in good certainty, the changing face of Dallas will remain unscarred. 
  •  POLICE CHIEF: Murder, robbery, arson are crimes. Violence, civil disorder, rioting are crimes equally punishable by law. A law enforcement officer is obligated, regardless of personal opinions, to uphold the law and see that it is enforced. This will be done in Dallas. Every officer in the Dallas Police Department has been thoroughly trained in the techniques of handling unruly crowds. The officers will perform their sworn duties; they will protect the rights of all citizens and preserve peace and order in our community. The police will devote their energies to controlling those few who do not have the judgment and character to obey the law. We know who those few are. 
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In 1961, the city of Dallas was court ordered to desegregate its public schools. As the process of racial integration had met with conflict in many other cities, the Dallas Citizens Council produced this film to encourage cooperation and emphasize the importance of avoiding violence. With narration and commentary provided by Walter Cronkite, the film features interviews with prominent citizens of the Dallas community who highlight the importance of the rule of law and the influence that the actions of adults have over the attitudes of their children.
Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years. Cronkite was born on November 4, 1916, in St. Joseph, Missouri, but spent much of his youth in Houston. He worked on the newspaper at San Jacinto High School, then on The Daily Texan at the University of Texas, which he attended for two years before leaving to take a job as a radio announcer in Oklahoma City. In 1939, he joined the United Press and became a war correspondent with the outbreak of World War II. Edward R. Murrow asked him to join his team in 1943, but Cronkite elected to stay on with the United Press. Following the war, Murrow finally convinced Cronkite to join CBS. He first gained prominence at CBS with his coverage of the 1952 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. He took over Edward R. Murrow’s position as the senior correspondent at CBS in 1961, and he began anchoring the CBS Evening News in 1962. In 1963, the program was extended to a half-hour and renamed the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” as it remained until his retirement in 1981. Throughout his career he signed off of programs with a trademark phrase. In the 1950s, he closed programs by asking, “What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times. And you were there.” For decades at the helm of the CBS Evening News, he simply concluded, “And that’s the way it is.” Walter Cronkite is remembered as an impartial, trustworthy presence in primetime news. He covered some of the most significant American events of the 20th century, including the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., the moon landing, and the Vietnam War. Cronkite is perhaps best remembered as the man that told America about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He broke the news on CBS, the first network to report the event, so most Americans first heard the grave news about their president from him. Cronkite married Betsy Maxwell in 1940, and they remained married until her death in 2005. They had three children: Nancy, Kathy, and Walter the 3rd. Cronkite continued to be a prominent voice in journalism even after his retirement. He died on July 17, 2009. His papers are held at the University of Texas, and the Moody College of Communication named the Walter Cronkite Plaza in his honor.