By Douglas Hales
Most Texas background books identify Norris Wright Cuney as some of the most influential African American politicians in nineteenth-century Texas, yet they inform little approximately him past his elected positions. In The Cuneys, Douglas Hales not just fills within the info of Cuney’s lifestyles and contributions yet areas him within the context of his family’s generations.
A politically energetic plantation proprietor and slaveholder in Austin County, Philip Cuney participated within the annexation of Texas to the U.S. and supported the position of slavery and cotton within the constructing economic climate of the hot kingdom. prosperous and strong, he fathered 8 slave young ones whom he later freed and observed expert. Hales explores how and why Cuney differed from different planters of his time and place.
He then turns to the better-known Norris Wright Cuney to review how the black elite labored for political and financial chance within the reactionary interval that Reconstruction within the South. Cuney led the Texas Republican celebration in these turbulent years and, via his place as selection of customs at Galveston, disbursed federal patronage to either white and black Texans. because the strongest African American in Texas, and arguably within the complete South, Cuney grew to become the focus of white hostility, from either Democrats and individuals of the Lily White” faction of his personal get together. His powerful management received not just persisted place of work for him but additionally a place of strength in the Republican celebration for Texas blacks at a time while the get together of Lincoln repudiated African american citizens in lots of different Southern states. From his place at the Galveston urban Council, Cuney labored tirelessly for African American schooling and challenged the domination of white hard work in the starting to be unions.
Norris Wright Cuney’s daughter, Maud, who used to be graced with a prestigious schooling, pursued a winning occupation within the arts as a live performance pianist, musicologist, and playwright. a pal of W. E. B. Du Bois, she grew to become actively desirous about the racial uplift circulate of the early 20th century. Hales illuminates her position within the highbrow and political awakening” of black the United States that culminated within the Harlem Renaissance of the Twenties. He adroitly explores her choice opposed to passing” as white and her dedication to uplift.
Through those 3 individuals of a unmarried mixed-race kin, Douglas Hales provides perception into the problems, demanding situations, and strengths of people. His paintings provides a big bankruptcy to the heritage of Texas and of African american citizens extra broadly.
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Additional info for A Southern Family in White and Black: The Cuneys of Texas
Cuney, as chief executive oﬃcer, set the stage for an amazing growth of black Masonic activity in the Lone Star State. 11 Galveston’s civic and community leaders began to take notice of the fraternal leader and Republican politician. Promotion-minded businessmen, merchants, and civic leaders wanted to make Galveston the leading Gulf port, hoping to surpass New Orleans in cotton and grain ship- ments. To do this they needed better levies, a deeper harbor, and a plan for both municipal growth and city government that would attract outside investment.
48 Largely because of these eﬀorts, Galveston provided better schools for blacks than most other Texas cities. Cuney in used his own funds and donations from white Galvestonians to open a black kindergarten in St. Paul’s Methodist Church. He served on its advisory board until his death in . For black students who could not attend school during the day and for adults who wanted an education, Cuney convinced school trustees in to create three diﬀerent night schools. Following the Ball High School controversy, Cuney received concessions from school board trustees leading to the establishment of Central High School for blacks in .
For ﬁve hours a raging inferno consumed forty-two blocks and homes and businesses. Fire hydrants that pumped seawater proved woefully inadequate for the job. 36 Mayor Fulton saw the folly of his intransigence and called a special council meeting to deal with the crisis. Cuney and the other aldermen voted to appropriate funds to repair city infrastructure destroyed by the ﬁre. To deal with the water crisis, the mayor appointed Cuney and two other aldermen as a committee to ﬁnd alternatives for Galveston’s water supply.