Wisdom From Hollywood
Billy "Hollywood" Groves
I got to witness some very important history recently at the Dedication Ceremony of a Texas Historical marker for desegregation of Texas public schools. The event was spearheaded by Dr. Lynn Ray Ellison of Texas City and held at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center on 1165 Angelina Street in Austin.
Rev. Robert Andersons of El Campo, Pastor of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in El Campo, delivered the invocation. He is a graduate of E.A. Greer High School in El Campo. Judy Colbert Taylor a graduate of Lanier High School in Freeport gave the greeting. Chester Houston of Wharton, a Wharton Training High School graduate, spoke on the occasion. Delores Penrice of Texas City is a graduate of T.L. Pink High School in Glen Flora, Texas. Delores sang some beautiful renditions of some old Christian classics to the large audience.
Dr. Lynn Ellison was the keynote speaker and the man who started the movement to gain recognition for Black high schools that were closed due to integration. Dr. Ellison did a great job of explaining the historical significance and importance of those Black high schools of the past to America and present generations. He went on to speak about former Black high schools like Austin Anderson High which produced great athletes like the late NFL star Dick “Night Train” Lane. He commended the Groves family of Crockett for their statewide endeavors, introduced Dr. Helen Groves King of Huntsville, a Crockett Ralph Bunche high graduate as the distinguished guest who would read the proclamation and unveil the Texas State marker. Dr. Ianthia Groves Fisher of Crockett was at the ceremony and was enshrined in the George Washington Museum as an Outstanding Texan, along with Dr. King, Dr. Ruth Groves Watson of Houston, a Crockett native and I (Billy “Hollywood” Groves). There were 200 Outstanding Texans who attended Black High Schools of the past who were enshrined at the Ceremony, Dr. Fisher, Dr. King , and I attended all Black schools before integration closed those schools.
Dr. Ruth Simmons, former NFL and SMU football star Jerry LeVias, Dr. Lynn Ellison, former NBA star Joe Caldwell, State Representative Alma Allen, Dallas Lawyer and Civil Rights activist Lee Alcon, Travis county judge Samuel T. Biscoe, former Harris county judge Andrew Jefferson (a Crockett native), Lillie J. Anderson, Ed L. White, Texas Association of School Board of Austin, Harold Adams, Clarence Caldwell and Griggs Owens, were some of the Outstanding Texans introduced at the G.W. Carver Museum.
Para Agaboga, is the site coordinator for the George Washington Carver Museum in Austin. She had this to say about the Dedication Ceremony. “Today marks the memory and dedication of those schools who often had the least but turned out the best.”
Ed Roby of Austin was enjoying himself at the ceremony. Ed is a retired Austin ISD administrator who played football at Prairie View A&M University with NFL star Ken Houston. He described the dedication as a great thing, adding that “we need to remember our history.” Ed is also on the board of the Prairie View A&M University Interscholastic League Museum in Austin. I asked Ed about the P.V. League Museum and what advice did he have for young people. He said the Prairie View A&M University Interscholastic League Museum holds all the sports records, team and individual records of those Black High School of the past. He added that the names and records of educational accomplishments, one act plays, bands and choir completion of those schools are also included in the Prairie View A&M University Interscholastic Museum in the Griffin building in Austin. “Go to school and obey your parents”, was his advice for young people.
J.T. Newsom of Lancaster, California, is a Booker T. Washington High of Texas City graduate who drove from California for the Ceremony. J.T. was very excited about the dedication of the State marker. He gave me this advice for young people. “The first thing young people need is, and education then self improvement, then they need to be family oriented and be law abiding citizens.” Griggs Owens of Ft. Worth, is a former Booker T. Washington High school of Texas City graduate and former star athlete. Griggs displayed an approving smile throughout the ceremony and said he was very happy to be there. He attends Mr. Olive Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, where Rev. N.L. Robertson and Rev. James Thompson are the pastors. Griggs gave me this advice for young people. “Young people need to stay in school, find the direction they need to go in, have patience and stick with it.” Lillie “Bushtail” Anderson of Texas City, Booker T. Washington High graduate also and a former basketball star had this to say about the program. “It is a great way to show respect and bring recognition to all Black High Schools that were closed due to integration.”
Rev. Robert L. Anderson, Pastor of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in El Campo is a graduate of E.A. Greer High School in El Campo, gave me this advice for young people. “Salvation and education will carry you through life.” Rev. Clay Spears of Wallis, Texas, Pastor of Greater New Faith Church in Wallis was at the dedication program. He gave me this advice for young people. “The harvest is ripe and the labor is few”. Charles Akins of Austin is a graduate of Austin Anderson High School. He told me he was proud to be a part of the Dedication Program and gave me this advice for young people. “Stay in School”. Bertha Sadler Means of Austin is a former educator and the wife of the late great Dr. James Means who taught at Houston Tillotson College in Austin for many years. Mrs. Means simply described the dedication as “Wonderful”. Rev. Will Collier of Corpus Christi graduated from Solomon M. Coves High School in Corpus Christi and Virgee Smith, a 1959 La Marque High graduate told me they really enjoyed the Dedication Program. Johnny Lee Roberts of Wharton, is a graduate of Wharton Training High School. He gave me this advice for young people. “Try to go to school and get an education, because education is the key to the future.” Barbara Alexander of Austin a 1960 graduate of Austin Anderson High School was having a wonderful time at the Dedication. She gave me this advice for young men. “Pull your pants up”. Delores Duffie of Texas City gave me this advice for young people. “No matter where you are in the community or home, stay in school and you can do anything your heart desires.
The Dedication Ceremony of a Texas Historical Marker for Desegregation of Texas Public School was a successful event which gave recognition and respect to a forgotten American institution. Special thanks go out to Dr. Lynn Ray Ellison of Texas City who got the entire movement started, the Booker T. Washington former students of Texas City and everyone else involved with this historical event.
Dr. Ellison is a great man of wisdom and vision, when he contacted me about writing articles on the subject, I was more than willing to help as were Johnny and Vera Allen of Texas City and Crockett. The historical marker was placed in front of the George Washington Carver Museum as a lasting tribute to those Black schools that were closed forever due to integration. The people I met the day of the dedication and the comments they made are far to numerous to mention in this one column. However, I salute all the students, teachers and staff of those important historical American Schools of the past. Here are some of the names of the people I met in Austin at the George Washington Carver Museum: Dabbs McGregor Woodfin, Harold Adams, Rev. James Daniels, Gloria “Billie” Lee, Renea Flecther, Alma Dixon, Bobbie Garratt. Harold Simmons, Mary Parker and Beatrice Mayes. Special Kudos go out to Bernadette Phifer, curator of the George Washington Carver Museum and Mrs. Duwanna Dukes of Austin, The Travis County Historical Commission and the Texas Historical Commission.
This column is sponsored by Customer’s Choice in Crockett. Chris and Lynn Martinez managers.
Eddie Griffin Speaks
An Invitation to the White House
Imagine what it must have felt like to receive an invitation to the White House. Images of sugar plumbs must have been dancing in their heads, when the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world received invitations from President Barack Obama.
But it wasn’t that kind of party.
Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House, austere and barren to the bone, save a single glass of water for each, without ice, the CEOs had not even a morsel of bread to be washed down with their water. And, “For those who finished their glass," writes Eamon Javers of Politico, "no refills were offered."
One of the attendees described it as a “Spartan message” to the bank executives. This was not Santa Land or Disney World, as in good ole days, with cocktails all around, and laughter and plenty of idle chatter and backslapping.
This had the feel of something ominous.
From the White House, there were five principal attendees: chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who arrived a few minutes late, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman Christina Romer, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers. Uncharacteristically, Summers said almost nothing, and it appeared to one participant as if he had been told to remain silent.
To break the ice, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon offered Geithner a fake check for $25 billion, the amount of Troubled Asset Relief Program money that the company has accepted. Although many of those in the room laughed, Geithner didn’t keep the check.
The president entered the room a few minutes later and made a lap of the table, shaking hands and saying hello to the CEOs, several of whom he called by name.
Taking his seat at the table, the president said, “So let’s get to it.”
The president spoke of public outrage over the high-flying executive lifestyle. “The anger gentlemen, is real,” Obama said. He urged pay reform and said rewards must be proportional, balanced, and tied to the health and success of the company.
And, so the story goes. They offered to give the TARP money back. In fact, they begged to give it back... almost as if anything would be better than regulation that would cap their salaries and bonuses.
JPMorgan’s Dimon insisted that he’d like to give the government’s TARP money back as soon as practical, and asked the president to “streamline” that process.
But Obama didn’t like that idea — arguing that the system still needs government capital.
The president offered an analogy: “This is like a patient who’s on antibiotics,” he said. “Maybe the patient starts feeling better after a couple of days, but you don’t stop taking the medicine until you’ve finished the bottle.” Returning the money too early, the president argued could send a bad signal.
Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis cracked a joke at the expense of his peers who’d lavished praise on the administration: “Mr. President,” he said, “I’m not going to suck up to Geithner and Summers like the other CEOs here have.”
Obama gets the respect, but his advisors get the heel. Why would Lewis feel as though he would have to “suck up to Geithner and Summers”? It sounds personal to me.