City of Hate - 101 "City of Hate"
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All of the following events detailed are 100% true
Out of respect for the dead, the names have remained unchanged
From the banks of the Trinity River
to the shores of White Rock Lake
From the top of Reunion Tower
Down to the steps of the Kessler Theatre
From the Great Trinity Forest
To the doors of Deep Ellum
From the lodges of Sons of Hermann Hall
to the Grassy Knoll of Dealey Plaza
and back down to the seats of the Cotton Bowl
This is City Of Hate
There are singular moments in the history of our nation that define our way of life. They’re the things you learn about in your textbooks. A unique set of circumstances that lead to a civil war, a world war, an impeachment or even an assassination. An environment that produces the perfect conditions for a moment of clarity about our sensibilities. Not a shooting star but a black hole swallowing light before it can reach your eyes. In the early 1960s, Dallas was a living, breathing ecosystem that was incongruent with the rest of the country. And that’s the focus of episode one of City of Hate----
What do you know about the history of Dallas?....well yeah there’s that…..or maybe this. But what do you really know about the city of Dallas? If you’re from here and you’re like me, the answer to that question is embarrassingly little. If you’re not from here, no we don’t ride horses to work and own ranches down around Dripping Springs. No, that’s Fort Worth.
Dallas is the ninth largest city in the United States and has been incorporated since 1856 but between the past that Dallas would like to forget …….and the present, it seems that we’ve ignored the entirety of the rest of the spectrum because of conspiracy theories, shame or just good ole fashioned American attention deficit disorder.
The name of this podcast is not for dramatic effect. I mean it is meant to catch your ear but City of Hate was an actual nickname used for the municipality of Dallas at one point.
That’s Melvin Belli. He was a famous attorney back in the 60s, 70s and 80s and he gets credited with coining the phrase CITY OF HATE. Belli represented Errol Flynn, Chuck Berry, Muhammad Ali and most importantly for our purposes...Jacob Rubenstein. You might know him as Jack Ruby AND Belli represented him pro bono. Belli referred to Dallas as “a city of hate” following Ruby’s trial in 1964. Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald after Oswald assassinated Kennedy if you’re not up to speed on that front. That’s the simplest way I can explain that formula. Belli defended Ruby in said murder trial….and lost.
Belli did go back to his own city. Which was San Francisco, California.
After the assassination of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles in 1968 Belli backtracked on the whole “city of hate” deal after he saw that the same thing happens in other places. That’s important information to absorb but none of that makes Belli wrong. In fact, from ten thousand feet up you could see why City of Hate fit Dallas like a glove. (Audio)
In the 20s Dallas was the headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan as the organization marched down main street and wreaked havoc at night burning crosses and routinely abducting black males. They’d often end up lynched on the banks of the Trinity River or at the bottom of it. Those same Klan leaders were elected to city offices including mayor RL Thornton (that’s Robert Lee Thornton yeah like Robert E Lee whom he was named after) Thornton who was an unabashed KKK member but also served as mayor of Dalla from 1953-1961.
Dallas was the home of the John Birch society (AUDIO) well we don’t have that long John so get on with it (AUDIO). What he really means is radical right leaning and opposed to the civil rights movement but clever enough to mask it behind the fear of communism and not old fashioned prejudice.
Dallas was the home of Congressman Bruce Alger who in 1960 organized a protest against Lyndon Johnson at the Adolphus Hotel that ended with Johnson and his wife being spat upon while Alger stood nearby holding a sign that read “LBJ SOLD OUT TO YANKEE SOCIALISTS”.
Johnson was a native son of Texas and the state’s most powerful politician but the city of Dallas turned coat on him once he agreed to be the running mate of moderate democrat and catholic John F Kennedy. Congressman Alger was the lone Republican in the Texas delegation and one of the most passionate conservatives in the country. Like clockwork Alger would make a rousing speech every January the 19th in remembrance of the confederate General Robert E Lee’s birthday (we just can’t get rid of this guy). Without Alger Lee’s birthday would slide by completely unnoticed in congress but he doesn’t make the speech for the enjoyment of his fellow congressmen, he makes it for the people who elected him. It’s for those reasons that Dallas was the city that white conservatives fled to while the rest of the country desegregated.
In the early 60’s the most important decisions pertaining to the future of Dallas were largely handled behind closed doors in the top floor offices of Commerce Street. The Dallas Citizens Council is the name of the group that would pass the sentence and swing the sword as it pertained to the future of the city. Bruce Alger had a seat on this council. He fit the qualifications, powerful, conservative and white. Most of the actual citizens of Dallas referred to the camp as the Dallas White Citizens Council. The council set the agenda and Alger relayed their message to Washington.
Many powerful men rode herd over the Dallas Citizens Council but none were more commanding than Ted Dealey. Dealey wasn’t the kingpin because of money or a seat in congress no Dealey was an influencer and I don’t mean a social media blogger at a snappy website. He was the public protector of Dallas and served one vital civic function, reminding his readers of “the Dallas way of doing things”, whatever the hell that means. Ted Dealey was the publisher of the Dallas Morning News from 1946 until his death in 1969. Dealey turned the Dallas Morning News away from political moderation and into an uncompromising and insulting editorial. In 1961 Dealey attended a luncheon at the White House hosted by John F Kennedy. I’ll let my friend Mike Rhyner reenact exactly what Dealy said to Kennedy at that luncheon (AUDIO) you bet your ass that made some headlines.
Dallas was such fertile ground for bigotry and prejudice that in November of 1963 one of the truly disgusting human beings that’s ever lived, Governor George Corley Wallace Jr, felt it appropriate to use Dallas as the launching pad for his campaign to become president of the United States of America. (WALLACE AUDIO). With the support of the NAACP Wallace ran for Governor of Mississippi in 1958. He lost to James Malcolm Patterson (he’s not important) who had the backing of the Klu Klux Klan. So, what did Wallace do? He became a wedge issue whore. Wallace ran again in 1962 touting a hardline segregation stance and a former founder of the Klu Klux Klan as his speech writer…..he won. When a supporter asked why he started using racist messages, Wallace replied, "You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about n-----rs, and they stomped the floor."
In June of 1963 Wallace engineered “stand in the schoolhouse door”...we’ve all seen Forrest Gump but to summarize he was trying to keep two black students from enrolling in the University of Alabama so he physically stood in the doorway of the auditorium.
In September he tried to stop four elementary school students from enrolling in four different elementary schools before the federal court of Birmingham stepped in.
I’m now realizing that when you say them all in succession they don’t carry as much weight. But George Wallace was a piece of shit and he thought Dallas was an appropriate playground to roll his ball out there.
Let’s get back to Ted Dealey. Two years after his little dust up with JFK in the white house on the morning of November 22nd 1963 Dealey ran a full page paid advertisement criticizing President Kennedy and accusing him of being a “communist stooge” among other slanderous accusations. Shortly after noon on that day John F Kennedy was assassinated as his motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza, which was named after Ted’s father and featured a 12 foot tall statue of George Dealey. It was rumored that some in Dallas cheered when they heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination.
The Dallas Independent School District wouldn’t be desegregated for another 7 years. Dallas has been defined by the crimes that have been committed within its limits more so than any other city this side of the Mississippi.
In a way, the Kennedy assassination was a chance for Dallas to choose what it wanted to be. Hate had gotten them to this point and whether it was a communist sniper from New Orleans that executed the deed was of no importance. Dallas was the city that killed Kennedy. Dallas was a city of racism. Dallas was a city of hate.
Music for City of Hate is provided by the band Centro-matic and also Hunter Cannon. The rest is licensed through Pond5.com.
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