Saturday, November 26, 2011

Post Office Art in Ferndale WA

Ferndale, Washington, is a small city located about ten miles south of Birch Bay and the US-Canadian border, accessible by a couple of I-5 exits. This river town has about 10,000 people and an eclectic old main street. 

By Northwest standards, Ferndale is older city, founded more than a hundred years ago. The mighty Nooksack River, which runs through the town, was for many decades an important transportation route into the interior of Whatcom County, and it was used to float harvested timber from the rugged mountain interior to the Bay.

Ferndale has some nice parks that pay tribute to its past, including Pioneer Park with nicely preserved early-settlers' cabins, Hovander Homestead Park with a historic farm, and Tennant Lake with scenic walks.  However, despite these nice parks, Ferndale is not a gentrified, upscale river city; it has more of a blue-collar "working city" persona. This persona is likely due to the fact that it has several large industries near it, including aluminum producer Alcoa Intalco and two oil refineries (BP Cherry Point and Conoco Phillips).

As you exit I-5 and head west on main street, you first encounter shopping areas with businesses that mostly are regional or national chains. As you head further to the west, and cross the Nooksack River bridge, you come to the old downtown main street that stretches for a few blocks. It is populated mostly by local businesses, including several restaurants. 

Ferndale Post Office
On the western outer edge of the old downtown is the Ferndale post office, located by a gas station. The post office was, in the past, difficult to spot because it sits back from the road and has little signage. It is in an older building that was decorated on the outside as if it were an antique drug store. At first glance, the post office did not appear to be a public building.

In the last few months, the Ferndale post office renovated its exterior. In doing so, it not only avoided reverting to an institutional look, but brightened up the area and made itself more easily identifiable as a post office. As the pictures in this post show, the post office decorated its outside with colorful paintings of postage stamps. The painting are nicely done, adding a bit of fun to a trip the post office. 

I have been told that these "postage stamp" paintings were done by local artists. Both they and the post office deserve praise for the innovative idea and the nice execution of a project that adds to the character of downtown Ferndale.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bull Hayes: Fayetteville's First African-American Football Hero

In the fall of 1957, Little Rock's Central High School was in the headlines throughout the world as a place of turmoil, even shame, as Governor Orval Faubus attempted to stop a few black kids from enrolling in that school. The Little Rock school crisis is well documented, but another civil rights episode occurring in Arkansas at the same time is less well known.

That year, in Fayetteville, the state had its first widely known African-American high school football hero. His name was William Lee Hayes, nicknamed Bull Hayes. He played fullback and kicked. His team, Fayetteville High School, had an outstanding football team that ended the year without losing a game, outscoring opponents by 269 points to 33. Bull Hayes was the best of several very good players that led the team to its undefeated season.

Hayes was born and raised in Fayetteville; he attended segregated schools from grades one through nine. According to researcher Andrew Brill, Hayes enrolled in FHS as a sophomore in 1955 and that year was "the first African-American athlete to play against whites at the high school level in Arkansas" (Brill, p. 56). Also that year, three of FHS's seven scheduled opponents (Fort Smith, Harrison, and Russellville) cancelled their games against the Bulldogs, refusing to play an integrated team. (See the article attached at the end of this post urging teams to refuse to play FHS because it had black players.)

Apparently, Hayes was academically ineligible to play football during his junior year, but during his senior year, in fall 1957, Hayes became a celebrity, at least regionally, for his powerful running. His achievements on the football field were the stuff of legend. Equally impressive was how well he fit into the team. Speaking years later, his teammates expressed deep affection for him. Jim Shreve, the team's all-district and all-state quarterback, told Fayetteville sports writer Grant Hall in a 1975 interview, "Everybody on the team just loved Bull. We kidded him all the time and he kidded us. There were never any racial problems at Fayetteville High, even though we were only the second school in the state, I think, to integrate." (Hall, 1975).

Another FHS player that year, Jim Bob Wheeler, told an interviewer, "One of the things that I remember about [Hayes] was his tremendous leg strength -- o my word -- that was the strongest human being that I ever knew. And yet he was a very gentle person and someone that wouldn't hurt a fly. (Adams and deBlack, p.133)
Bull Hayes was six feet tall and weighed 190 pounds, not particularly big for a fullback. But, as Wheeler said, he had powerful legs, plus quickness and speed, that made him an explosive runner. He was a constant threat to break through the line for a long run. When the opposing teams focused on stopping him, Shreve would fake handing the ball to him and reel off long runs. 

Shreve described the successful FHS offense:

We actually ran what amounted to a wishbone," remembered Shreve. "Bull lined up right behind me, and sometimes we'd just snap the ball through my legs right to him. He would be at full speed after one or two steps. We were never timed in the 40-yrd dash back them, But I'm sure he could have run a 4.5. (Hall, 1975).

Though "Bull" seemed an appropriate name for a hard-charging fullback, and it added some panache to his persona, the name was not conferred on him because of his smash ahead running ability.  According to Shreve:

"I first met him when we were both caddying at Fayetteville Country Club about 25 years ago," Shreve began. "Everybody called him "Bob" but I misunderstood and thought they were saying "Bull". So that's how he got his nickname. (Grant, 1975)
With an integrated team, FHS sometimes faced difficulty on road trips finding places to eat because some restaurants refused to serve black players. According to Brill, the team began packing lunches prepared by the high school cafeteria staff. Of course, Hayes would sometimes be singled out by opposing teams. Brill described the game in Harrison:

In 1957, after the Bulldogs had resumed playing Harrison, Fayetteville players riding the team bus through the Harrison town square saw a black dummy hanging from a tree and signs in store windows that read, ‘Beat Bull.’ During the game, Hayes was verbally abused by fans, but the night passed without major incident. (Brill, p. 56).

Rus Bradburd, in his book Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson, described the situation in Harrison more colorfully:

Hayes had to deal with more than the usual high school hassles. When the Fayetteville team bused into Harrison for a game, an effigy of a black man was hanging from a tree in the town square. According to the Democrat-Gazette, Harrison star Don Branison said his team was told to stop Bull Hayes no matter what it took. "We tried to kill him...We tried to hurt him real bad," Branison said.

Fayetteville beat Harrison anyway. Branison was awarded a scholarship to the University of Arkansas the following year. (p. 130)

Despite such hostility, FHS and Bull Hayes prevailed for a perfect season. Hayes received a football scholarship to attend the University of Nebraska. According to Bardburd, "Hayes had offers from Oklahoma State and Tulsa, where Arkansas played regularly. To avoid the embarrassment of a local black player making them look bad, the Arkansas staff arranged a full ride to University of Nebraska for Bull Hayes. " (Bardburd, p. 130). Bradburd does not provide a source for this assertion. Of course, at the time, the University of Arkansas football team was segregated and would remain so for many years to come. 
Picture of William Hayes in the 1958 FHS Yearbook

Hayes had a good freshman year at the University of Nebraska, but had to leave the second year because of academic difficulties. He played football for two years at Joplin Junior College and finished his college career at Arkansas AM&N. He had a tryout with either the Cleveland Browns (Brill p. 56) or the St. Louis Cardinals football team (Grant, 1975), but did not make the team.

After his graduation from Arkansas AM&N, Hayes was hired to be executive director of the Boys Club in Topeka, and he held that position until his death, at the age of 36, on September 7, 1975.  

Like others African-Americans in Arkansas who were the first to break different color barriers, Bull Hayes was a pioneer. He was hero not only for his accomplishments on the football field that won the admiration of his teammates, schoolmates, and much of the population of Northwest Arkansas, but also for his role in the integration of high school sports in Arkansas.  In truth, thanks to him, 1957 was a very good year for the desegregation of Fayetteville schools, quite a contrast to the unseemly events in Little Rock.


Adams, Julianne L. and Thomas DeBlack. Civil Obedience: An Oral History of School Desegration in Fayetteville, Arkansas, 1954-1965. University of Arkansas Press.

Bradburd, Rus. 2010. Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson.  Amistad.

Brill, Andrew. 2006. Brown in Fayetteville: Peaceful Southern School Desegregation in 1954, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Winter, VOL. LXV, NO. 4, pp. 55-58.

Fort Smith and Russellville Football Games Cancel [sic]. 1955. Arkansas Faith, p.17.

Hall, Grant. 1975. 'Bull' Hayes Remembered by Former FHS Teammate. Northwest Arkansas Times, Sept. 14.

Ivy, Darren. 2001. Integration Found ‘Bull’ on Front Line.  Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 30.

Ivy, Darren and Jeff Krupsaw. 2002. Untold storiesblack sport heroes before integration. Wehco Pub. p. 107-109

The Amethyst, 1958 (Fayetteville High School Yearbook)


Attachment from Arkansas Faith, published by Jim Johnston., November 1955

Monday, November 21, 2011

University Presidents with a Sales Pitch and an Army

In January 1991, a group of students opposed to the U.S. bombing of Iraq and the coming war in the Middle East set up a camp with 27 tents on the North Campus of the University of Georgia (UGA). The tents were initially located near the Arch, the entrance to UGA from downtown Athens. After a couple of weeks there, threatened with arrest, they negotiated an agreement with Charles Knapp, the president of UGA, to move to a small designated area away from the Arch, pay for any damage to the North Campus lawn, and to reapply for "office space" every two weeks. The camp dispersed in late February, soon after a cease fire was called in "Desert Storm."  See

Student demonstrators in January 1991 at the UGA Arch
Based on what recently occurred on the campuses of two great universities in California -- UC-Berkeley and UC-Davis -- you have to wonder what would happen to UGA students in 2011 if they set up tents for a protest. I doubt if the outcome would be the same -- a peaceful protest that was tolerated within limits by a university that respected the right of students to express their views on an important issue. In contrast to UGA in 1991, see what happened at UC-Davis when some students held a protest: 

It appears that the leaders of major universities have new reasons and weapons to oppose student free speech rights, which were established in the 1960s following the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Now, expressions of concern about "safety" and "security" can be used to justify violent police actions to shut down student demonstrations, and university heads (presidents or chancellors or whatever) have large forces of black and blue clad ass-kickers, bearing the fanciest of weapons, to enforce their edicts.

From the late 1960s through the 1990s, university administrators were respectful of students presenting their grievances: after all they were expressing their concerns on a college campus where the passionate exchange of ideas is usually encouraged. Now, many seem determined to silence students at whatever cost and by whatever means they deem necessary. What has changed to make university leaders and the elite staffers of some of the nation's best universities determined to squelch free speech on campuses?  I suggest the following changes contribute to the new aggressive use of a "president's army" to shut up students:

First, the university presidents now have the power to take such actions, and the worry little about objections from the faculty (some talk, little action) or most students ("I just want a job when I graduate."). At one point in history, the faculty of a university had real power and responsibility in the operation of the university, including a strong voice in the selection of the university's president.  And after the free speech movement in the 1960s, students gained a modicum of power, with the legitimacy to make demands and express opinions about university governance and other issues of concern to them.

UC-Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Now, university leaders and elite staffers have usurped, to a large extent, faculty and student powers. And the concerns of these folks have little in common with the concerns of faculty and students. The administrative elite of any university is preoccupied with budgets, expenditures, personnel management, building and grounds maintenance, enrollment management, record keeping, and, above all, fund raising. Because of the increasing need to fund universities from external sources, many university presidents and chancellors are no longer the cream of the academic crop, but are people with useful political ties or begging skills that can bring much needed cash to the institution. These folks spend much, if not most, of their time raising money and managing external relations. They hire well-paid administrators -- the staff elites -- to manage the university.

In the tradition of hierarchical organizations, the elite staffers often see themselves as the top of the pyramid of a large business that sells education and research. Like most managers at the top of a large bureaucratic pyramid, they have limited contact with the employees producing the education and research, or the clients who consume their product. Most probably have not been with students in a classroom or carried out publishable peer-reviewed research in years or decades, if ever. They value efficiency, which is not a value of great concern to most faculty members and students.

Second, university presidents want to sell sizzle of the university steak to potential donors and other funders, and unwelcome student protests can interfere with the sale pitch. Because the main job of a university president is to raise money, much of his or her time is spent courting rich private donors, corporate donors, foundations, federal government funders, and, if a public university, state legislators. They want to tell the rich folks about the school's US News and World Report  rankings, the number of faculty with degrees from the best universities, the number of Fulbright scholars, the interesting research that will lead to new jobs, the new programs that are planned, and the successes of the most attractive and brightest students. Their sales pitch is interrupted, perhaps ruined, when they have to explain to potential donors why students are aggressively protesting such things as the excesses of capitalism, steep tuition increases, or corporate greed.

Third, university presidents now have small armies of armed police officers to get rid of problems such as uncooperative students saying things that might interrupt the sales pitch to donors. When I was attending university in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the campus cops were hired mainly to enforce traffic laws and to keep things calm at athletic events and fraternity parties. They did not have weapons, and for years efforts to arm them were resisted. They certainly did not walk around in riot gear or SWAT outfits.

Of course that has now changed. Anyone who watches the police confronting students at the University of California, Davis, has to be astounded at the number of police officers undertaking this task, how they were dressed, and the weapons they had and used. In their black and blue uniforms and visor-ed helmets and sun glasses -- bearing batons, some rifle-looking things, pepper spray, and who knows what else -- they certainly were intimidating. This group looked and acted as if it were raiding an unfriendly village in Iraq or Afghanistan to remove a group of terrorists. And these fearsome SWAT-like commandos, confronting a bunch of young folks in jeans and sweatshirts, were empowered by the chancellor of the university to do all kinds of violence to, and to arrest, all who got in their way.

Apparently, this is what some campuses have become: homes for presidents or chancellors with armies who can order inconvenient students -- those stepping on the president's sales pitch -- to be beaten, pepper sprayed, arrested or who knows what -- maybe mace comes next, then bullets. And all of this is justified with soothing words about respecting rights and the need to protect safety and security. 

O.K., maybe I am wrong in my explanation of what is happening on these campuses, and maybe there are better explanations for police violence to shut up students. For example, see these other explanations:

However even if my understanding is wrong, I still cannot conceive of a reason why a college president needs an army -- black-shirted SWAT-like special ops commandos -- to deal with non-threatening students who are trying to express their opinions. Nor do I believe that after a president or chancellor unleashes this army, he or she can credibly declare his or her horror at the results.

Let's take the army away from the presidents and chancellors, and give them back campus cops, preferably with minimal weaponry, instead.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Newsclip of July 15, 1927 Vienna Riots

I am doing some research on the riots and deaths (mostly civilians killed by the police) that occurred in Vienna, Austria, on July 15, 1927. This violent episode in Austria's history started as an unplanned protest by Vienna workers against a court decision that had freed two members of the Heimwehr who had shot and killed two unarmed Socialists during a march in a small city in Burgenland. The violence of these riots, and the nationwide strike that followed, strengthened support for the Heimwehr, a fascist military-political organization whose goal was to replace Austria's democratic system with a fascist government. After the  violence of the riot and the police counter-strike, the February 1934 civil war -- which destroyed the Socialist Party -- was almost inevitable. At least 90 people were killed during this disturbance; most were  Viennese workers -- supporters of the Socialist Party -- shot by police. Five policemen were killed. Over 600 people were injured.
I will be publishing a post on the history of this event in a few days. In the meanwhile, I found this British Pathe' newsreel clip with film of the Ministry of Justice building on fire and crowds milling around.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Beauty of an Early Winter Storm in Birch Bay

On Friday, an early winter storm blew into Birch Bay, bending trees and creating white-capped waves in the bay. The violence of the storm was not enough to do any real damage, so it was possible to brave the stiff, cold winds to see the beauty it helped create on and by the bay, where land, water, light, and clouds meet.  The following are a few pictures showing the beauty painted by winds coming down from Canada.
Dense clouds, clear horizon with sun behind the San Juan Islands
The colors of early winter at Birch Bay
The dark bay in some turmoil, with light on the horizon

Seagulls fight the wind and waves to find a place to land
The stormy day ends

Two of Fred Starr's Best Newspaper Columns

I have read many of Fred Starr's "Hillside Adventures" columns, published in the Northwest Arkansas Times from about 1936 to the early 1970s, plus four of his books. As I have written elsewhere, I believe his 1958 book, Of These Hills and Us, is a gem, his best writing. Also, I think these two columns, both published in 1940, are among his best. They are certainly the most touching and memorable columns of his that I have read.
Fred Starr, 1942

The first essay is about a teenager named Marjorie, a student at Greenland, where Starr was principal. She was killed in an automobile accident just a couple of days before Christmas in 1940. The second is about selling his farm in Greenland, a place where Margaret, his daughter, was born and died a few months later. 

In the two essays, Starr's Ozark voice is plain but eloquent and moving, and his writing seems as honest as it get. 


Hillside Adventures
By Fred Starr
Northwest Arkansas Times
December 26, 1940

Tonight I keep thinking of Marjorie. Today we left her yonder on a peaceful hillside overlooking a clear rippling stream and a long, sloping, quiet valley. There in a country burying ground, underneath a great mound of flowers, she is taking her long sleep.

Marjorie was young, beautiful, vivacious and loved life as only a teenage kid could. She had never harmed a body in all her short stay here. Day before yesterday life stretched away ahead of her, a life of happiness and usefulness lay out there just ahead. Last week I watched her going about her tasks in a crowded schoolroom, saw her pass out presents to her schoolmates and wave them a farewell for a short Christmas vacation.

Then, out of a hushed, starlit twilight death struck. One moment her eyes were alive with joy and light and laughter. The next there was a sickening ...ripping ... crashing thud and Marjorie lay beside a country road her beautiful body maimed and crushed, her lovely features streaked and smeared with blood...another life snuffed out by a misguided automobile.

A turn of the steering wheel one little round and life is never the same again for those of us who loved Marjorie. Tonight stunned and bewildered, her loved ones sit with numbed hearts, gripped with an iron hand of grief that, turn which way they may, crushes and smothers and maims. Tomorrow there will be an empty chair at the Christmas table and food that was to be eaten will go untouched.

But somehow knowing Marjorie as we did; having known her gay laughter, the bright twinkle in her eyes and her way of taking life in her stride, I feel she must be continuing to be the same wonderful girl in transition. Out beyond the stars that shine so cold and bright tonight her spirit must be winging its way, going on and on in another life in the same carefree, happy, courageous way. What a lovely angel she must be!

While here Marjorie lighted a torch. Its flames are glowing still and will continue to glow long after the grass is green on the fresh mound and the snow of many winters have come and gone.

Socrates after drinking the hemlock said to his listeners, "I go. You stay. I wonder who is the better off?" And as I sit with the beautiful and lovable memory before me, I too, am wondering.

Hillside Adventures
By Fred Starr
Northwest Arkansas Times
July 30, 1940

Tomorrow is moving day at our house. In a weak moment we let a real estate agent sell our farm right out from under us and tomorrow's sun will be the last one we shall see from the east window of the place now called home.

When I was but a child my father contracted itching feet and there has always been much moving in the family. Why, I can remember we used to move so often when the chickens saw us coming to catch them they just walked up and crossed their legs.

The process of uprooting oneself from one location and moving on somehow brings an empty pang that much changing of abode never quite dispels unless you are a gypsy at heart and love to be forever on the road seeking new adventures.

We have done a heap of living in this house in these two years. Many joys and one great sorrow have been ours. Through the front door we followed our last born and we could not bring her back. With the snow white casket went a lot of life's sunshine. We felt we never wanted to see the place again. But life must be lived out. One does not run away, not if he is to keep on living.

The moon is right for moving and we should have great luck if it wasn't for the fact we are moving the cat and the broom.

Some hill folks are wont to say three moves is bad as havin' a burn out, an' no doubt they are right. But moving has its compensations as well as drawbacks. There is something about going into a new house that gives you a sort of a lift. It's like turning over a new leaf. You hope there will be less mistakes made under the new roof and that there in the different environment you might run across the happiness you have strived for and fell short of in the old surroundings.

State Representative Fred Starr and Anti-Desegregation Legislation, 1956-1958

In a previous posts, I have written about Fred Starr, who was an educator, author, and columnist in Northwest Arkansas for more than thirty-five years. In these posts, I mentioned that he was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1954 and served in that body from 1955 to 1958. These years were turbulent ones for Arkansas as its elected leaders enacted laws and proposed constitutional amendments to maintain Arkansas' segregated schools.

Starr did not write anything in his books or his "Hillside Adventures" column about his work in the state legislature, and I have not read elsewhere about his time as a state representative. To find out more about his role in the political events during this tumultuous time, I searched the local paper, the Northwest Arkansas Times, for relevant stories.

The 1954 Election

In 1954, when Starr decided to run for a seat in the state House of Representatives, he had never before run for a political office. However, he was well known in Northwest Arkansas, and the position was to represent Washington County and part of Madison County in the state legislature. Starr had been making speeches to area clubs and schools for two decades, had a weekly hill-wisdom column in the local paper, had had a weekly radio show, and had been a teacher, principal, and superintendent in Greenland, Farmington, and Elkins.

Arkansas was still a one-party state in 1954, and Starr ran as a Democrat. He had two opponents in the Democratic primary, whose rules required a candidate to get a majority vote, either in the first primary or in a run-off, to be the party's nominee. In the first primary election, Starr received the most votes of the three candidates, but not a majority. In the run-off, he faced David Burleson, a young Fayetteville lawyer. Burleson, a graduate of Fayetteville High School and the University of Arkansas, had been a pilot during WWII and had been recalled to service for the Korean War, retiring as a Lt. Colonel. Starr and Burleson were both popular candidates, and the result of the run-off election was close: Starr won with 4,080 votes, barely more than Burleson's 3,955 vote. (Burleson was elected to be a state representative in 1958 and held that office until 1967.)  Starr had no Republican opposition in the general election held in November.
Advertisement for Radio Show in August, 1947

In the same 1954 primary elections, Orval Faubus was elected to his first term as Arkansas' governor, upsetting incumbent governor Francis Cherry. Also, in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on the Brown v Board of Education of Topeka Kansas case, mandating an end to segregated schools. These two events set the stage for some of the most dramatic and traumatic years in Arkansas' history, and Fred Starr was destined to play a role in the conflict as a member of Arkansas' legislature.
Political Turmoil: 1955-1958

Starr was a state representative during a time when its elected leaders attempted to stop the federally-mandated desegregation of schools in the state. Among the many anti-integration measures passed by the Arkansas General Assembly during Starr's terms as a representative were the following:

In 1955 and 1956, the legislature passed nullification and interposition laws that asserted, basically, the Supreme Court's Brown v Board of Education of Topeka Kansas decision did not apply to Arkansas and that the federal government was not allowed to exercise power over Arkansas schools. In the 1956 general election, voters approved the legislature's "Act of Interposition" and gave a majority vote to amending the state constitution to include an interposition provision (Amendment 47). The laws and constitutional amendment were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Cooper v. Aaron decision.

In the 1957 legislative session, the Arkansas state legislature passed laws to create a Sovereignty Commission with extensive investigative powers; to make persons and groups engaged in certain activities register with the state and report on income and expenses; to drop the requirement for compulsory attendance in integrated schools; and to permit school boards to use school money for attorneys in fighting integration suites. The first two laws were called "Gestapo bills" by opponents.

In August 1958, the Arkansas state legislature in special session enacted more than a dozen laws to battle school integration. These included Act 10 requiring state employees to list their political affiliations during the previous five years. Act 15 forbid public employment of NAACP members. Thus, state employees who disclosed membership in the NAACP would be fired. The laws passed in 1958 also gave the governor power to close public schools, and he used that power to close all of Little Rock's high schools for the 1958-59 school year, an action approved by overwhelmingly by city voters in a referendum.

Starr and Desegregation Legislation

More than fifty-five years after Starr took office, it is difficult to reconstruct his legislative career to determine what legislation he supported and what he opposed. It is clear that he was not in a leadership position during the four years that he served.  As a backbencher, his votes were rarely mentioned by newspapers. The Northwest Arkansas Times, the local paper for which he wrote "Hillside Adventures," provided sparse coverage of the state legislature during these years.

Nevertheless, we can get some insight about Starr's votes on anti-desegregation legislation in two ways. First, we can conclude from newspaper accounts of legislative sessions that Starr voted for every legislative proposal to resist desegregation of Arkansas schools that came before the house of representatives. This conclusion is based on the fact that all of this legislation passed with very few -- usually one or two -- representatives voting against it. From all indications, Starr was never among those who voted against the pro-segregation legislation.   

Second, Starr wrote an almost daily column during the 1957 regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly. The column, titled "In the Legislature" was written in Starr's folksy style and seemed to designed educate readers about how the state legislature worked and what was going on there. It was published in the Northwest Arkansas Times.

His columns show that Starr voted for all four 1957 legislative proposals intended to support efforts to keep Arkansas' schools segregated. However, despite these votes in favor of the anti-desegregation bills, Starr maintained that he opposed at least some of the legislation for which he voted. 

The four bills were passed with no debate and only one vote against them. As noted above, they created a "Sovereignty Commission," dropped requirement for compulsory attendance in integrated schools, permitted school boards to use school money for attorneys in fighting integration, and made persons and groups engaged in certain kinds of activities to register with the state and report in income and expenses. The latter measure was intended to force the NAACP to reveal who provided it with financial support.

Apparently, Starr's votes did not please many of his constituents.  He explained the reason for his votes in his column published on February 19:

Many of the people in our district seem decidedly disturbed about the [segregation] bills, and about the vote of their representatives on the matter. After conversation with several of the people by phone and by word of mouth while I was home over the weekend, I have the feeling my explanation as to why I voted as I did was accepted.

Christ once said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth small make you free." You who are not down here in the midst of this confusion do not always know the truth. Even if you did know the facts of the matter, you still would not know exactly how to react to certain situations unless you also knew all of the implications involved.

Even when we voted on these matters last fall, I had the feeling the Supreme Court would have its say, and would undo the whole shebang. I have the same feeling about these four bills. Someone very emphatically inquired why we wanted to shift the burden to the shoulders of the Supreme Court? This person seemed to think in so doing I was neglecting my duty as a representative.

What some folks don't know about the making of laws is that if you are going to get the things done you want done, you sometimes have to help the other fellow do some of the things he wants done. It is a matter of: You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. As this country was being settled there was a custom of helping each other roll their logs. Naturally if you didn't help the other fellow, then he didn't help you. Whether it is good or bad in politics, I wouldn't attempt to argue.

I have a feeling -- and this is purely a feeling -- that the governor told the legislators from Eastern Arkansas who were bitterly opposed to the increase in sales tax that if they would help put over his program he would try to help them with their segregation problems. Maybe he didn't know how far-reaching these bills were. He may have not been aware they would cause any more feeling that did the ones voted on last November. He did state he was for them, and he is quite a bit smarter than I ever hope to be.

Time is the element that will take care of our problems. We are in an altogether different setup in Fayetteville relative to this question than are the people where the races are half and half. They will have to have time to absorb the shock of this impact which tends to destroy a thing that has been a part of their way of life so long.

The reason we have two houses in the Arkansas legislature is so one can correct the mistakes of the other. The Senate passed the loyalty oath without a "no" vote. We fought the thing hard in the House and lost the battle. I stood with five other people in voting against it. We were trying to correct a mistake we thought the Senate had made. I certainly hope the Senate corrects the mistakes we made in sending them these segregation bills

The segregation bills were still on his mind when he wrote in his column published the following day,  February 20:

I cannot always guarantee my vote as recorded to be vote I would prefer to give. I still reserve the right to refuse to light the fuse that would cause a stick of dynamite to be discharged right under my feet. Sometimes a member of this body votes contrary to his conscience because it is not at all a good feeling to have a rug snatched out from under you.

Starr wrote about this topic again in a column published the next day, on February 21:

It seems that the segregation bills -- like the poor -- will be with us from now on. Yesterday the Senate passed all four measures but two of them were amended. Those amended will now come back to the House to be voted on again. Then they have to be signed by the governor. Senator Wade voted against the two amended bills -- HB322 [creating the Sovereignty Commission] and 324. They were the most vicious of the set. However some think the most undigestible parts of them were amended out. Later we will have the task of voting for or against a $50,000 appropriation to make 322 work.

Two of the House members are now in the hospital from heart attacks. If they keep throwing those highly controversial bills at us, a few more may decide to join those two. Pressure groups are exerting more pressure on all sides all of the time....

Finally, in a column published on February 26, Starr wrote his last defense of his votes:

In this matter of making laws, each member has a very little stick. One vote out of 100 is a very small way of speaking your sentiments. Not one time since coming here has one vote made the difference in passing or failing to pass any measure. Yet each member feels he has a big responsibility.

Letters are still coming in regarding the matter of segregation. One lady sent down a letter of two and a half typewritten pages, with 20 odd questions about how to yet put a damper on these bills. They only way they can be stopped is to vote down the appropriation of $50,000 for setting up the commission on the sovereignty measure. There will be some votes against it. Should the Washington County delegation vote against it, the appropriation for the University will come in for some very careful study.

If the appropriation for the segregation measure is handled as the bills were, there will not be much choice in the matter. You, too, could possibly recognize a steamroller if you saw one about to run over you. The boys who have this thing so much to heart will simply have to have a little more time to get themselves adjusted. The change is inevitable, but they do not see the handwriting on the wall.

These columns show the mind of a practical politician rather than a reformer who might be cited as a "profile in courage" or a moral crusader. Starr seems to say that the opposed the bills; indeed, he thought some of them were "vicious." However, he voted for them because (1) the Supreme Court would likely undo them, and (2) he was scratching backs so they would later scratch his.

Starr suggested that even though he did not favor the bills, he could not stop them with his one vote; on the other hand, he says, if he and his Washington County colleagues opposed the bills, the appropriation for the University of Arkansas might be jeopardized. He seemed to think that opposing the "steamroller" would not only be futile, but also cause a "stick of dynamite" to explode at his feet. Besides, Gov. Faubus was for the bills, and "he is quite a bit smarter than I ever hope to be."

If we take him at his word, Starr viewed integration as inevitable in the long run, and he favored giving the staunchest opponents time to adjust to the changing conditions. I do not know if he advocated this position because he really believed that racist views would change or because such a "moderate" approach to segregation could be used almost indefinitely to delay integration.

Perhaps his arguments for his votes for segregation legislation make sense, and certainly it not fair to judge Starr, in retrospect, too harshly.  Almost all state representatives and senators voted for all of the proposed anti-desegregation bills. Nevertheless, whatever the practical reasons for his vote, Starr ended up on the wrong side of history -- as did almost all Arkansas state representatives and senators who served in the legislature from 1955 to 1958. We look back at their actions during these crisis years and regret the stands they took.

Starr Retires from the State Legislature

After serving his first term (1955-1956), Starr was elected to a second term in 1956 without opposition. He did not run for re-election in 1958.