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D in the Heart of Texas             

Jerry T. Dealey

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The Dallas "Citizens Council" (Part 2)

Early History of Texas
The Europeans and American Settlers
John Neely Bryan – And Other Early Founders
Some Wheeling-Dealing to Grow a City
George Bannerman Dealey
The Dallas Morning News is Born
The Great 1908 Flood
G. B. Promotes Other Early Dallas Growth
The "City of Hate"
Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza
The Other Buildings Around Dealey Plaza
The Elder G. B. Dealey
The Dallas "Citizens Council"
The ‘Right Wing’ Direction of Dallas - "City of Hate" Revisited
A ‘Turn-Around’ for the Dallas Morning News
The Pre-November ‘Hate’ Incidents
Dallas’ Law Enforcement
November 1963, Why Dallas?
Dealey Plaza Changes To-Date

Within the 100 members, was the ‘elite’ 24 member of the controlling council. It was this council that controlled the activities of the entire 100. While the 100 had meetings once a month (or more, if needed), the 24 member elite paid additional dues, and had a regularly scheduled lunch meeting. It was during this meeting that these powerful men would make quick decisions that affected all of Dallas. In fact, if there were something that needed to be done quickly, Thornton would often call as few as 5 of the elite 24 and make a decision that would be upheld by the entire council.

Some of the members of the elite 24 included:

Robert L. Thornton – “Mr. Dallas” - Chairman of Mercantile Bank
Fred Florence - Republic National Bank
Nate Adams - First National Bank (the 3 ‘Oil Banks’)

J. Eric Jonsson - Texas Instruments - Later Mayor
Stanley Marcus - Neiman Marcus (the “Lonely Liberal”)
Arthur Douglas - Statler Hotels
Dr. William Tate - President of SMU (exception to the no-educator rule)
C. A. Tatum - Dallas Power and Light
Robert Cullum - food store chain and President of Chamber of Commerce
Sam Bloom - Bloom Advertising
Les Porter - head of the Gas Company

This list represents some of the powerful leaders in Dallas during their heyday.

It should be noted that some of the most powerful men in Dallas were NOT on the list. These powerful men included H. L. Hunt, Clint Murchinson, and other independent oilmen, who were the richest men in the area. These men had interests that were well outside of the local politics of Dallas, or even the State of Texas. They had both national and international interests, and their power exceeded the local ‘jurisdiction’ of the Dallas Citizens Council. I doubt that they were even members of the more general 100. However, since three of the most prominent members of the elite 24 committee were the leaders of the ‘Oil Banks’ that held many of the funds of the powerful Dallas Petroleum Club and its powerful members, you may rest assured that the wishes and inputs of these powerful men would be listened to, and well represented.

For all of its puppet government appearances, the Dallas Citizens Council actually accomplished many good things for the city of Dallas. (If you were a Labor Union, or a minority, it also did a lot of damage to you.) Included in these was the Centennial Exhibition, the expansion of Love Field, new public libraries, the Dallas Convention Center, Dallas Market Center, Central Expressway, and the construction of DFW Airport, which would become the nation’s second busiest by 1990. They also attracted many large businesses to the Dallas area.

There are a few incidents of social changes that the DCC were actually behind, if the Council felt that not doing them would create problems for the city and its bottom line. One of these was the “official desegregation” of Dallas, which occurred in the early 60’s. Like many southern cities, Dallas had the “Jim Crow” laws requiring segregated restrooms, drinking fountains, schools, transportation and other public facilities. When the Dallas Citizens Council saw the turmoil occurring in many southern cities over desegregation, they decided it would be best for Dallas’ image to do something about it. On a set day, they arranged for the exclusive lunch counter at Neiman Marcus, Dallas’ most exclusive upper class store, to start serving blacks. (Remember that Stanley Marcus was a member of the elite Council.) On this given afternoon, they arranged for a number of blacks to have lunch here, and at other formerly all-white locations around town. Neiman Marcus only lost one customer because of the incident, and from that day forward all businesses within the Dallas area (many chief executives of which were on the DCC) ordered desegregation. Smaller businesses then followed, although many did so reluctantly.

Under the control of the Dallas Citizens Council, the citizens of Dallas grew rather complacent about problems and controversies arising in the city of Dallas. They started to believe that the Dallas Citizens Council would take care of such problems, and fell into a general apathy about getting involved in social programs or concerns. They drew more into themselves, and became less involved in politics and other areas.

IE150-1.GIF - 6031 BytesD in the Heart of Texas - Table of Contents
03LEFT.JPG - 1910 Bytes The Dallas "Citizens Council" (Part 1)
03RIGHT.JPG - 1880 Bytes The ‘Right Wing’ Direction of Dallas - "City of Hate" Revisited (Part 1)

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Last edited June 3, 2003