Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas on October 6, 1974 · Page 3
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Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas · Page 3

Fayetteville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 6, 1974
Page 3
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Page 3 article text (OCR)

The Second Time It Worlcec! Northwest Arkansos TIMES, Sunday, Oct. 6, 1974 FAYETTEVILLC, ARKANSAS The Reconstruction Of Greene County KUTAW, Ala. (AP) -- On th day Martin Luther King was murdered six years ago. Tom Gilmore look unto iiimsclf an oath. "I swore," snid Tom Gilmore, "thai I would spend the rest of my life doing what I could to make Martin's dream come irue. Well, Uie son at the slaveowner is now sitting down with the son of the slave. We have made a 'beginning." Thomas Earl .Gilmore is the sheriff of Greene County, Alii. He is black. It is doubtful even the Utopian vision of the prophet King could have Included that circumstance. A black southern sheriff, yes; there are now 1 four in Alabama. But in Greene County? That's not all. William McKinley Branch is the probate judge oF Greene County. He, too, is black, So Is the school superintendent. So are all four county commissioners and all five school board members, all black. ' The county clerk is black. The coroner is black. No county government in America is more thoroughly black. The irony is that the dis- of Ihe Old Confederacy was Ihe lanlalion aristocracy; the icarl of the plantation aris- ocracy was (tie soil-rich Black Belt; Ihe heart of Ihe Black iiclt was and has remained, in he psyche of its offspring, tinction belongs County, Ala. to Greene To the white people of Greene County, as recently as a decade ago. the merest suggestion of that possibility was laughable. In fact, it was not in the realm of sane consideration, literally unthinkable. To most of the county's black folk as well, such an idea might have found expression in the old spiritual's promise of a better day a-com- in', but surely not in the thought and language of the here and now. By the traditions with which history blesses and burdens each generation. Greene County is a place apart. Explained simply, the heart reen County. More than jusl a brooding jiece of geography carved out of western meandering " Alabama rivers, by two Greene lounly represents a stale of mind, an alliludc. exerting a softly insistent influence on all who have ever trod its dark soil. To many, il symboli/es the Hire core of everything that is implicit In Ihe word Dixie. And old times there are not forgotten, riot easily. So when Ihe black takeover was complete--it came in three stunning elections, the lasl in 1972--Ihe county's 75 per cent b l a c k population suddenly found themselves on a strange mountaintop sniffing a heady air that nothing in their history had prepared them lo breathe. Whiles, for their part, saw it as Lhe world turned inside out, a reversal of roles everything in llieir history had cried out lo Ihem to reject. The stiadow of segregation remains over Greene County. Whites, for example, maintain a private school at a cost most of them can ill afford, and both races, voluntarily, still swim at separate public pools. -Yet Tom Gilmore says they have made a beginning; in the hard glare of history, others would call that understatemenl. One recent afternoon, Cecil Rhodes, the police chief of Eu- law, stepped across the street lo Ihe courthouse to chat and sip a Coke with the sheriff. Eutaw. population 2,800, is the county seat and its only city of any size. Unlike Ihe rest of Ihe county, whose rural population of 7,800, Is about 4-1 black, Eu- law is fairly evenly balanced racially. Us cily officials, Including Police Chief Rhodes, are while. Hii ring Ihcir conversation, Sheriff Gilnmre pulled out a 1SI5 pholograph he had resurrected among some old papers. It showed his while predecessor. Sheriff Big Bill Lee, and a while policeman. Rhodes, confronting a determined young Mack civil rights demonslralor, Tom Gilmore. Rhodes marveled for a moment at how youthful everybody looked. Then he grinned. "Those were the days, weren't Ihey, Tom?" There was no bitterness. Not long ago a white city patrolman was hurt in a car wreck. Gilmore loaned Rhodes one of his own deputies and a patrol car until the man was back on the jr/j. An attitude among some petulant whites when the inexperienced blacks took over, was: let 'cm mess it up while we sit back and laugh. Gilmore might as easily have told Chief Rhodes to shift for himself. He said il never entered his mind. "I am the Greene County Sheriff," Gilmore said "I am not the black Greene County Sheriff." Gilmore, 33, is a lean, outgoing man given to modish clothes, a Irrm mustache, conservatively cut hair. He wears no u n i f o r m , no badge, no gun; Greene Counlians know who their sheriff is. At six-foot-one he moves (he athletic grace of -- one Is tempted to say, a black panther. The Gilmore residence, not far from his birthplace, also is of antebellum vintage but it is neither on the lop of a hill nor included on the Heritage Sociely's Pil grimage of Homes. It does loweycr, have 16-lncti timbers lewn by slaves ("Who better has a right to own it?") and contains Ihe first Ulcphone Gilmore ever had, acquired, as ho house, since he became sheriff. The old house provides, at lasl, room enough for Die Gilmorcs lo raise their five sons and daughter, as well as a :at named Freedom. The cat is ilack and while. Gilmore was an early disciple of Martin Luther King and came lo know him intimately. When King led his 1063 March to Washington he personally re- cruiled Tom Gilmore. a Greene County farm boy, to drive one of the mule wagons. In front of :he Lincoln Memorial Gilmore istcned enraptured as King pronounced the dream that one day Uie nation would truly practice its creed and the children of slaves and slaveowners would sit down together al the Lable of brotherhood. RETURNS HOME Young Tom returned home Flushed with zeal. Soon he and : u's one-trme schoolteacher, William Branch, were leading voting righls demonstralions in the streets of Eutaw. Ttesults were slow in coming, Loo slow, loo meager, for one really convinced thai love conquered all. His anger drove Gil more temporarily from King's nonviolent ranks out lo California to join the militant battalions of Stokeley .Carmichael. A longing for Ihe old associations, the warm feelings of fellowship which he discovered more Iruly refleclcd his conscience, drove him back--Iwo weeks before King was killed In his office, Gilmore pointed out where he had moved the shcrif's desk, from its former posilion facing the door to a place against a side wall. Sil- HONORING A DEDICATED PROFESSION! NATIONAL PHARMACY WEEK This w**k, the spotlight is on your pharmacist, recognizing the outstanding contribution made by the pharmacy profession to our nation's health. We're proud to be on the medical team headed by your doctor . . . a team dedicated to making your life longer and-healthier. COLLEGE AVENUE PHARMACY Your Complete Drug Store Free Delivery We Specialize in Prescriptions at a Savings Cosmetics -- Baby Supplies -- Gifts . 421 H- College 443-3301 COLLIER DRUG STORES Your Business Is Appreciated 100 W. Dickson -- 442-6262 Eastgate Shopping Center -- 443-3441 All You Expect in a Drug Store and More CONSUMER'S PHARMACY We Specialize in Prescription Service and Emphasize Customer Savings J-ack Burson -- F. E. Hardcastle Registered Pharmacists Corner of College and North, Fayetteville Phone 521-3200 EVELYN HILLS PHARMACY Richard Brown, Pharmacist 24 Hour Prescription Service Evelyn Hills Shopping Center Phono 443-3486 FAYETTEVILLE DRUG We Pick Up and Deliver Prescriptions Wheel Chairs -- Walkers Commode Chairs -- Crutches We Sell or Rent Phone 442-7345 East Side of Square MEDICAL ARTS PHARMACY "Located For Your Convenience" Doctor's Building -- Free Delivery Bob Patrick, Pharmacist-Owner Pat MeKamey, Registered Pharmacist 241 W. Spring 443-3411 COMPLETE DRUG STORE SERVICE At The OAK PLAZA PHARMACY Open 9^9 Weekdays -- 12-6 Sundays North and Garland Sts. 443-3477 OSCO DRUGS Complete Drug Store Service Northwest Arkansas Plaza Open Monday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at It, he looks out a win-|Th! election installed Judge ow into the deep shade of a ant pecan tree on the court- ouse lawn. "My desk is not etweeu me and anybody," he d. ''It's symbolic small thing, but and it's how I ·el. "This office was always .such 1 ugly place lo the black eople of tliis county. They ouldn't come in without inter- uptlng the domino game. I've langed thai. The girls in Ihe ont office are friendly, they y lo relax everybody who omes in. And I try to Ireat ev- rybody as the best- God made, "verybody. "At first, while people were eluclant to come in and see ie. They'd go lo Iheir preacher nd I'd hear from him, or else iey'd go lo Ralph Banks, hat's changed. It's getting lore like I want it to be." WHITE OFFICE HOLDER Ralph Banks is the county at- irncy. He is one of only two hite persons holding counly ifice. Before he look Ihe job e was deputy county solicitor nd, unofficially, Greene Count's chief strategist for keeping Branch and Sheriff Gilmore in the first and second most powerful offices in the counly. The irobate judge presides over (he county commission. Soon after Ihe cleclion, (he 'lew black judge called on llalph Banks and asked him to le counly atlorncy. Banks was flabbergaslcd. He accused Judge Branch of making a Lasteless joke. Branch assured him he meant it. "You must he out of your mind." Banks said. "For "five years I've fought tooth and nail to beal you." .acks out office. It was alph Ranks, in the 1970 elec- on, who contrived Uie Spotted orse Party as a palatable way or local blacks to vote for hites, on a ticket that didn't nclude the name George Walice. It didn't work. The black vole ·ent to candidates of the Na- onal Democratic Party of Ala- ama (NDPA), the "political roduct of an earlier statewide lack anti-Wallace maneuver. ircssed sporlshirls, not a "That's all Ralph," ihe in the past, judge replied. "Would you consider slaying on?" The other while Greene County officeholder is Brcckcnridge Barnes Aduston Rogers Jr., likewise the possessor of an old and distinguished Greene County names. Somewhere back yonder Rogers and Banks arc related--just as nearly all the white landowners in Greene County are relaled, somewhere back yonder. One day Rogers was speaking critically of a fellow Greene Countian when Banks eluded, "Breck, you shouldn't lalk that way about him, he's kin to you on both sides." TAX ASSESSOR Breck Rogers is the fax assessor. He took the job soon afler he came home in 1961 from a slint in Ihe Army Corps of Engineers afler graduating from Uie Universily of Alabama. At 37, he is a taciturn, bespectacled man whose south- ern politics arc as starchily conservative as his frcsh- per- orie would regard as the crusading sort. "We never wanted an all- Ijlack government," Judge Branch said. "When we knew we had n majority of the vole 1 asked a w h i t e friend of mine, a schoolteacher, lo sec if Uie whiles would be willing lo Celtic for 50 50. I was lold no :lice." Thus Breckenridge B.A. Rogers Jr. became Greene County's firsl effort toward a .vhile-black coalition ticket, an effort sponsored by blacks. "I believe you'll be seeing more whites running for office in future elections, and getting elected." Rogers said. "I hope lo Gnd we never have an all- white government again, but I don't believe it's going to remain essentially all-black much longer, either." A SHARED RELIEF Judge Branch shares that belief. In the lasl primary he openly supported a while candidate over a black candidate running for congressman. Each (lay. however, (he historic distance between the races seems lo narrow. The necessities of government -- of a black official issuing riagc license to a white couple, a white lawyer arguing before a black judge, a black deputy answering a call from a white housewife--have brought the races logelher In new and dif- fercnt ways, and thus closer t h a n ever before. The attitude of the new black leadership has also had its effect. "Judge Jranch," Ralph Banks said, "Is lie least vindictive man I h«v« ever known." When testimonials to a black judge run the distance from a ,'rand dragon to a pedigreed while, Ihings are not the same n Dixie. "We're more lhan halfway there," Ralph Banks said. "I would guess there are about 25 per cent of bolh races who are jitlcr-enders. Some will be that way until they die. But those who think know we've got to do .his together. Greene County is nome for all of us, black and] white. We'll work it out." Steven Ford At Montana Ranch iUISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -President Ford's 18-year-old son, Steven, has taken up the life of a cowboy on an operating Montana cattle ranch. A Secret Service agent confirmed Friday the President's son was at the Lolo Train Ranch near here hut refused to say when he arrived or allow newsmen to talk to him. He said young Ford was here "to see how he likes it. He wants to lead as normal a life as possible.". .-, Ford's son was graduated from high school last spring and said he wanted to work a year on a ranch before deciding whether to continue his educa- Duke University. OUTSTANDING FEATURES. OUTSTANDING LOW PRICE. Outstanding Wue. HANDY 3RD DOOR opens to ice cubes, juice and other mosfc- used items. Help scut cold loss in freezer. BIG8.T-CU.FT. FREEZER section, holds up to 237 Ibs. of food -- lets you stock up on sale items and beat high food costs. Automatic door closers help minimize cold loes. ADJUSTABLE SHELVES in refrigerator let you rearrange the storage area. METER MINDER SAVESENERGY when it is turned offduringp criods oflow humidity. HANDY 7-DAY MEAT KEEPER stores your meat, keeps it fresh without freezing. You don't waste time on thawing. BUILT-IN HOLLERS make it easy to move for cleaning 2273 -**irs=i Big 22-cu. ft. 3-door side-by-side and its under HOO. Our big frostless offers you all the features you want at an almost unbelievable low price for these days. Frost freedom means you'll never again spend time on messy defrosting. It's only 33" wide for those who need a lot of food space in a small area. Choose yours in color now at no extra charge and add a spotof bright convenience to your kitchen that will last year after year. 88 SPECIAL BUY AUTOMATIC ICE MAKER OPTIONAL, EXTRA Service? We have experts. EVELYN HILLS Open Thursdays and Fridays Till 9 p.m. -- 443-4591

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