by Richard Croxdale
In 1966, the Austin Legal Aid Society was established. It was one of the first in the country that took advantage of that vital section of the War on Poverty laws passed during the Johnson Presidency. The Austin office was also one of the more active and dynamics offices in the nation.
Legal Aid is often called The Law Firm for the Poor. The Austin office provided everyday services such as adoptions, divorces, and wills. They helped clients negotiate the bureaucracy to acquire food and housing and medical care.
Until the 1980’s, Legal Aid was also involved in legal reform. The local office battled Urban Renewal, unfair landlords, gentrification. Legal Aid sued to end unconstitutional jail conditions, fought for a warranty of habitability for renters, and helped establish due process for mental health patients.
PHIT produced a documentary in 2006 to celebrate 40 years of outstanding service to Austin and to the nation.
by Richard Croxdale
In 1983, People’s History in Texas followed John Henry Faulk around on his campaign trail in his quixotic run for Congress in the 6th Congressional District against Phil Gramm. Phil Gramm had resigned his office as a Democrat and ran again as a Reagan Republican in a special election.
John Henry Faulk is the legendary storyteller, star on Hee-Haw, who was blacklisted in the 1950’s and filed suit, winning and thereby destroying the blacklist.
The video interviews East Texas residents who supported Faulk because of his involvement in environmental issues that were important to them–stopping the canalization of the Trinity River, opposing lignite strip mining in Grimes County, and preventing the creation of a low level waste dump.
Faulk lost, as was generally predicted. Gramm went on to become Representative for the 6th Congressional District and then Senator for Texas. His greatest claim to infamy is the passionate support for the elimination of regulation of hedge funds in the late 90’s. The world would have a been a different, better and more colorful place if John Henry Faulk had won.
The video was not used in the campaign, nor did it advocate his election. It was a slice of life in the times of extraordinary individual.