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It was the 1960s. In the South, segregation and Jim Crow had been in place for decades. Peaceful protests – Freedom Rides and lunch counter sit-ins – were met with beatings or arrest and imprisonment. The quest for civil rights made the names of cities like Greensboro, South Carolina, Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, Jackson, Mississippi, and Memphis, Tennessee synonymous with violence.
Houston was not exempt from the discriminatory laws and practices of the time… water fountains and swimming pools were segregated, blacks could not try on clothes or shoes at Foley’s. But somehow Houston managed to implement desegregation without suffering the strife experienced in other southern cities.
Randy Butler, President and CEO of the Institute, explored with Reverend Lawson, using a question and answer format, the inspirational story of why Houston was different. Houston was able to advance desegregation through collaboration among an unlikely combination of Houston business, political, community, and publishing leaders. Click for the full interview.
Why is this story relevant today? Our city, state, and country face complex problems – social, economic, legal, political, and infrastructure – which must be addressed but are difficult to solve due to the polarization of our leaders and citizenry. Maybe we can learn from past efforts.
The ISP partnered with the American Leadership Forum to host this first in a series of conversations about unlikely collaborations that resolved deep, divisive issues, as a means of Practical Peace Building.