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Houston Breakthrough Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978
Page 32
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Houston Breakthrough Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978 - Page 32. April 1978. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 2, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/257/show/255.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(April 1978). Houston Breakthrough Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978 - Page 32. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/257/show/255

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978 - Page 32, April 1978, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 2, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/257/show/255.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough Special Election Issue, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1978
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date April 1978
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
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Title Page 32
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File Name femin_201109_539bf.jpg
Transcript There are two breeds of cats in politics. There are those with the temperment, the ego, the backing to be candidates. And then there are those of us who are organizers. I've got the freedom to stick my finger in a lot of pies. But if you run for office, you've got to keep it in only one. I don't know whether it's because I'm a Gemini or just insane that I like to do a lot of things at one time. That's just the kind of person I am. (CARR continued from page 1) that I voted for abortion." And she laughed. ' When people look at the SDEC voting record, they're going to see that we voted on some very liberal, very progressive resolutions. For the first time the state Democratic party office has actually lobbied for progressive legislation that was adopted by the SDEC, including a bill against the loan sharks. Calvin Guest, the chair of the SDEC, owns a savings and loan company. And he signed it, too. Of course the mod-cons say we don't represent Texas, this terrible group that passes all these resolutions, so they want to take back control of the SDEC, and they're organizing to do that. We're organizing, too. It's crucial for us to win the SDEC seats again, with a similar kind of philosophical view as the present committee, in order to show that it wasn't just a fluke in 1976, that we didn't just win it on the back of Carter. The new committee will be the people in office when the crucial decisions are made about the 1980 elections. I think it would be terrible to let the so-called conservative Democrats take this over and pass rules that will never let us get back in the door again. Too, we'll elect delegates at the September convention to attend the national party's mini-convention in Memphis. It's important for women to be elected because women's issues will be lots more discussed at that mini-convention. Q: Is the question of party rules, and party openness, going to be addressed at the mini-convention? A: The administration-here I am, already anti-Carter (laughter)-doesn't want anything to happen at the mini- convention. But we, the liberals, want delegates to go there and make sure something does happen. And we hope that the rules issue will be addressed. Q: One last question, Billie, before you go home. You're known by political insiders as one of the most effective grassroots organizers in the country. And having been in that game for over 20 years— A: Twenty-five! Q: Right. Since 1953, as I recall. Your participation has always been as a non- elected activist. A lot of women are getting involved in politics now, and many who want to do so think of elective politics as the prime kind. If a woman asked your advice, would you point her toward elective office or your own mode of participation—organizing? A: Well, there are two breeds of cats in politics. There are those people-and we need them badly-who have the temperament, the ego, the backing to be candidates. And then there are those of us-and. I say "us" because I decided years ago that I was an organizer. You can't be both. A few may pull it off, but not many. I'd have to answer that question on an individual basis—whoever the person was, what their potential looked like. I wish we had more women candidates running because until we have women running for office we're not going to get women elected. It's just that simple. But I must say that I, as an organizer, have a freedom that I enjoy. I am not tied to what the public thinks. I'd rather be a poll maker than a poll taker. And the reason that I can't run for office at this stage of the game is that I have been the messenger that has brought bad news. You know, I said the war was wrong, I said that segregation is wrong. Everything that has been bad in this state, I have been among a group of people who has been the first to shout it. In olden days they killed the person who brought the bad news, and (laughter) we're not far from doing that now. You're called "anti* American" if you come out for unpopular causes too quick. But somebody has to take those positions. And I like that. Just like I was telling them, now that we're developing new issues. Some of the ones that we're talking about I'm excited about. They'll be earth- shattering, and we're going to get lots more criticism. I'm beginning to think that we liberals have got sort of complacent and lazy, and it's time we started taking some unpopular stands again, if we're going to continue our role as a conscience of a state or an era. So I find the role of organizer more interesting. I work with congressmen. My God, I go to the White House-I've been to the White House since Carter's been elected on four different occasions, met with him once, met with Mondale once, met with Eizenstat four or five times,met with-I can't say his name-Brzezinski- met with the man who's writing some of his disarmament policies. When I go in the White House gate, what is interesting is that the guards look at you like, "Go around to the other gate, this isn't the visitors' gate," and your name is there, and you get respect. But outside are the demonstrators, and I'm going inside the White House to have a meeting with the President, and I feel like, you know, "What am I doing here?" And sometimes I feel like joining the demonstrators. That's a role I enjoy. I may meet with a couple of congressmen, I may cuss Bob Gammage for whatever he's done lately.** Then I can come back and talk to a state senator, work with the legislature. I've seen bills that I've actually written become law. I can work with the mayor or city council, and the commissioners' court. So I've got the freedom to stick my finger in a lot of pies. But if you run for public office, you've got to keep it in only one. I don't know whether it's because I'm a Gemini or just insane that I like to do a lot of things at one time. That's just the kind of person I am. And I still love going out organizing precincts. I think that is the most exciting thing, to see people who have never done anything get involved. The success stories of people who came in here and stuffed envelopes and became Barbara Jordan or became Ron Waters or Bob Eckhardt-there's reward in that. But the real reward is in the housewife who came in here one time, who had four children and who had dropped out of school at 14, and said, "I can't do anything, but I'm willing to try." We said, "Well, look, you can file, you can stuff, you can address, you can answer the phone." She was real scared the first time that she had to answer it. Now, she didn't become Barbara Jordan, but she had been a person with very little self-confidence. And out of her work here, she developed a great deal of self-confidence. And there are a lot of people I have seen come into the organization and it's changed their lives completely. You could write a book about all of the people who work here. They're all very interesting people who have brought something to the organization and got something back from it. They grow while they're here and I enjoy that. We don't all have to beome famous. We can just become interesting. . . and interested. You know, I was Billie Carr, American housewife, a house full of children, and I ran for precinct committee in my precinct because my husband was president of a labor union, and they thought he would be too unpopular to get elected, and that I might be elect-able, and they ran me instead of him. And Mrs. Frankie Randolph -the women's movement has got to learn that Mrs. Randolph, who was the person who made the liberal movement in this county and in this state what it is today -it was Mrs. Randolph who made Billie Carr into what she is today. At least the good part. I won't blame Frankie for the bad.*** But I didn't just learn practical politics by getting involved. I learned many other things. I started reading again, I went back to school, I was saved from having my brain become practically a vegetable. Q: Are you saying, then, Billie, that if a woman gets involved in politics, and decides not to go the elective office route, the fact that she's in an office like this one, or that she's involved in com munity organizing doesn't mean that she has to play the role of the "go-fer"— the person who gets the doughnuts and coffee? A: Right now in this county most of the biggest campaigns are being run by women. And most of them came out of this organization. The thing I want to express to women is that you can have clout without being a candidate. Running a campaign is not a secondary position. Q: Billie, I've kept you longer than promised. Thanks on behalf of Breakthrough. *Buch, who was contacted by phone after the interview, admitted that he was against affirmative action, having testified before the Winograd Commission, the party's national commission charged with reviewing delegate selection rules, that, "I feel like quotas and percentages have a tendency to destroy the Democratic process really, in that it imposes an unnecessary burden, I think, to find members of some specific 'down-trodden' minority who may not care two whoops in Halifax about the party winning the election or attending its convention." He said, however, that his post as Harris County party chair did not involve convention politics, and therefore his views on delegate selection were immaterial in this race. Greene, asked for her opinion on the matter, said she disagreed completely with Buch. "Harris County is a very big and very important county," she said. "As chairperson, he was invited before the Winograd Commission to give his opinion. If they didn't think that in this capacity he didn 't have something important to say, they wouldn't have invited him. So his position on affirmative action is very important in this race. " **_/._». Rep. Bob Gammage, from Houston's 22nd district, was a liberal in the Texas Senate, but voted very conservatively after his razor-thin election to Congress in 1976. One of his key votes was to deny federal funds to provide abortions. Harris County Democrats endorsed him in 1976, but endorsed his opponent, Gerald Liedtke, in 1978. ***R. D. Randolph, one of the very few wealthy Texans to become involved in liberal causes, was a major figure in Harris County Democrats in the 1950s. As a precinct organizer, a contributor to liberal campaigns, a convention strategist, and as a founder of the Texas Observer, the statewide progressive news magazine, Randolph's influence was unusual. She early recognized the talents of the 25-year-old political newcomer, Billie Carr, who became her protegee. APRIL 1978 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 31