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Let's Talk About It! - Will Wilson Campaign Ad (1961)

Gordon Wilkison


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  •  After Lyndon Baines Johnson was elected Vice President in 1960, a special election was called to fill his newly vacant seat in the Senate. Because it was a special election, anyone residing in the district who paid the appropriate filing fee could be listed on the ballot. As a result, 71 names were posted, including Texas' first African-American and female candidates. Wilson ultimately lost to Republican John Tower, the first Republican from Texas elected to the Senate since Reconstruction. 
  •  Will Wilson first appears in the film 
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  • About the video
  • Will Wilson Will Wilson
  • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
  • Tidelands Oil Case Tidelands Oil Case
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"Got five minutes? Let's talk about oil." So begins this campaign ad from Will Wilson's (unsuccessful) run for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Senator Lyndon B. Johnson won the Vice Presidency. The ad focuses on the oil's vital role in Texas' economy and highlights the ways in which Wilson has fought, and will continue to fight, for the oil industry in the name of states' rights. Wilson served as attorney general of Texas from 1957-1963 and was named assistant U.S. attorney general during the Nixon administration.
Politician and State Attorney General Will Reid Wilson was born in Dallas on July 29, 1912. After graduating from Southern Methodist University’s law school, he joined the Dallas law firm Turner, Rogers, and Wynn. Wilson served as aide to Dallas Mayor Woodall Rogers before becoming the Assistant Texas Attorney General. From 1947-1951, he acted as Dallas County’s District Attorney, and in 1950, Wilson was elected to the Texas Supreme Court. He left the court in 1956 to succeed John Ben Shepperd as Texas Attorney General, during which time he attempted to scale back prostitution in Texas cities. He received the Wymann Memorial Award for his outstanding service in 1960. After unsuccessful senate and gubernatorial campaigns, Wilson once again served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division from 1969 to 1971. Will Wilson passed away in 2005 at the age of 93. 
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 is 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.
The Tidelands Oil Case was part of a larger tidelands controversy where the United States government began reacquiring submerged land from various state seashores.  Texas became involved when oil was discovered in these areas under dispute, specifically between low tide and three leagues (10.35 miles) from shore.  This land, some 2,440,650 acres, was mapped out by Sam Houston soon after Texas gained its independence from Mexico in 1836. The United States and President Andrew Jackson recognized this boundary, along with Texas' independence in 1937.  The boundary was also recognized by President James K. Polk and the Supreme Court upon Texas' annexation in 1945.  The School Land Board was eventually allowed to sell mineral leases with all earnings used for public schools.  
1946 saw a Congressional bill pass that favored California's (a state undergoing similar disputes) claim to submerged land only for it to be vetoed by President Harry Truman.  However, Texas was viewed as a special case by many, including Truman, due to the state joining voluntarily as an independent entity.  Truman eventually recanted this view after his 1948 re-elction. Texas was brought to court by the attorney general, under Truman's guidance.  The matter was wrought over in various government branches, and a clear resolution was not reached until 1953 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill protecting Texas' ownership.  Unfortunately, the matter was again brought up in Congress and once more in the Supreme Court where Texas successfully defended its claim in 1960, a decision that forevermore validated the claim.