Galveston

Texas Standard: February 16, 2021

Emergency efforts at restoring power continue across Texas as millions try to make do without electricity during an historic winter storm. The whole state of Texas affected by power outages, but not equally. Questions mount over the state’s electricity grid management, as much of Texas hunkers down for a second round of frozen precipitation and low digit temperatures. We’ll have the latest. Also, understanding the latest controversy over the national anthem at sports events. And voices of hope, faith and endurance in danger of being lost to history, an effort to rescue priceless Black gospel recordings. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 8, 2021

As the White House prepares for new directives in border enforcement, Texas democratic lawmakers push for immigrant rights changes.Coming up, our conversation with Texas representative Mary Gonzales on how democrats in the Texas legislature plan to press colleagues over immigration rights. Also in a part of Texas that’s long complained of air pollution and a lack of official response, communities are banding together to get things done. We’ll have a report from Houston. And oil demand still down, so way are gasoline prices on the rise? Plus a new Juneteenth mural that promises to be more than just a work of art. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 13, 2021

The Texas legislature has gaveled into session with a new house speaker and big news on the budget front. We’ll hear more on what’s happening at the Texas capitol. Plus from the nations capitol, a conversation with a U.S. congressman from the Rio Grande Valley on the realities ahead on the presidential impeachment front. And with the muting of the president on social media…a new conversation about the future of big tech and free speech. Also, the completion of an historic sculpture in Galveston more than a hundred years in the making. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 26, 2020

Residents of the northern part of the Texas gulf coast prepare for the worst as Hurricane Laura approaches, gathering speed. Overnight, hurricane Laura intensified 70 percent, approaching category 4 as it neared the coastal border of Louisiana and Texas. Many cities have been evacuated, we’ll be checking in with the mayor pro-tem of Galveston, who says residents there are bracing from a storm similar to Hurricane Ike. Also a major beef between Harvard and Texas A&M as the two institutions engage in a public food fight over the safety of eating meat. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 18, 2019

An indefinite stay. What’s next for death row inmate Rodney Reed, who had been set to be executed on November 20th? We’ll have the latest. Also, once sleepy counties on the edges of our biggest cities starting to boom: the changing face of the Texas suburbs. And a hold up at the police station? Why some say law enforcement agencies are preventing vulnerable immigrants from getting special visa designed to get them out of harm’s way. Also, a large Catholic diocese wants to provide foster care services without penalties for LGBT discrimination. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 31, 2019

Does the state have a duty to provide mobile voting centers? Texas democrats claim a new law unconstitutionally disenfranchises young voters, we’ll have details. Also, did Exxon Mobil have one set of numbers about climate change for investors, and a secret set for itself? Texan Rex Tillerson takes the stand in a closely watch trial involving one of the Lone Star State’s biggest companies. Plus, Twitter banning political ads? Tech expert Omar Gallaga on why and what it adds up to. And why you might see tarantulas crossing Texas roadways, and not just tonight, mind you. All of that and then some today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 16, 2018

More than just a me too moment: the Texas House holds hearing on how to crack down on sexual harassment at the capitol, we’ll have the story. Also, the face of Texas politics is changing, and both political parties would like to win over the fastest growing ethnic demographic in Texas. Why California might be able to Texas a thing or two about how to get them. And as the Fed considers another interest rate hike, should you buy or rent your next home? Why hurricane Harvey’s made the calculation more complicated for some. Plus the week in politics and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 15, 2018

Nebraska uses opioids to execute a condemned killer. We’ll take a look at what this might mean in America’s most active death penalty state. Also, a deadly bridge collapse in Italy and a stark reminder about infrastructure warnings closer to home. What’s being done? What’s the state of overpasses in Texas? You might be surprised by the answer. And much of rural Texas may be a book desert, but relief may be coming soon. Plus no fiery hail or frogs from the sky but crickets landing in biblical proportions in East Texas? We’ll hear what’s happening and why. And where’s Kinky? The return of the Texas offender and sometime gubernatorial candidate. Those stories and a whole lot more on today’s Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 30, 2018

Retired Texas teachers say they feel let down by a vote that could mean lower pension checks. We’ll explore the impact and the next steps. Also a multi-million dollar settlement involving a Houston-area refinery accused of doing too much polluting. We’ll look at the legal moves that made it happen. Plus, the story of a small town principal jailed for murder and the questionable evidence that put him there. And when wildfires pop up across Texas it’s often volunteer firefighters that are there first to put out the flames. We’ll look at why many volunteer departments are struggling. And keep an eye on your cacti. The insects that could destroy your xeriscape, yuck up your yucca and obliterate your agave. All of that and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 12, 2018

Buzz builds around a charismatic democrat running for statewide office in Texas, bringing free media and money from Hollywood. Sound familiar? Beto O’Rourke has the sort of charm and charisma that’s drawn the attention of the national press corps, as new fundraising numbers show him leaving his rival, incumbent Ted Cruz in the dust. But is it moving the needle when it comes to winning over voters? We’ll take a closer look. And bag bans statewide have been sacked by the Texas Supreme Court, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got a right to a bag. How are retailers responding to changes in the law? Also the maker of plans for a 3d printed gun scores a court victory that could have ripple effects. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 25, 2018

The governor calls for an emergency election in a Harvey hit district that’s also lost its Congressman. Does the maneuver pass muster? By November 6th, voters in Texas 27th district will have one, two, three chances to cast a ballot for their representative to the US.. House. Confusing? We’ll walk you through it. Also a new ruling on DACA and a blow to President Trump. We’ll hear what the decision means for young undocumented immigrants and the program designed to protect them from deportation. And the man president Trump wants to pardon, they called him the Galveston giant. We’ll have the view from Jack Johnson’s hometown and so much more on todays Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 18, 2018

A first lady and political matriarch, but a thought leader? We remember Barbara Bush and her intervention in an American crisis of compassion. Plus, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee sides with 4 liberal justices in an immigration case. The shape of things to come? A Texas legal scholar has his doubts, we’ll hear why. And Houston’s so-called Dangerous apartment epidemic. We’ll hear the charge and how the city’s responding. Also, choppy waters: a lawsuit challenges a longstanding licensing rule for maritime pilots. And in the US capitol, are Texans the only statues bearing arms? We’ll Politifact check that claim and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 17, 2018

The Commander is Chief wields a lot of power over U-S military action, but where do those powers begin and end? We’ll explore. Also, it’s been almost 10 years since Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston. But the city still hasn’t rebuilt much of the housing many depend on. And it’s been exactly 5 years since a fire and explosion at a Central Texas fertilizer plant killed 15 people and destroyed a large part of a small city. What’s been done to prevent another catastrophe like West, Texas? Also, Pulitzer prize-winning author Lawrence Wright’s new book hits shelves today. “God Save Texas” is all about the state he calls home, including what he describes as AM and FM Texas. Plus we’ll hear the argument for why it seems Texas lawmakers could have been drunk when writing the liquor laws. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 21, 2018

Some momentum behind tightened accountability for firearm background checks. The top Texas Republican who now seems to be at least partially on board. Also, early voting is underway. The first choice those heading to the polls will have to make is which party’s primary to vote in. Why crossover voting isn’t all that common. Plus, Texas coastal cities still cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey are also looking ahead to mitigating the damage of the next storm. Why folks in Corpus Christi are concerned. And it’s been 25 years since the siege at a Branch Davidian complex outside of Waco. What law enforcement learned from that deadly encounter. Plus a profile of a man known as “the Galveston Giant.” Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Jack Johnson: The Galveston Giant

As I was watching the Olympics, I began thinking about all the great athletes who have come from Texas and gone on to be the best in the world. Though not an Olympic champion, I thought of one Texan who stood unexpectedly at the pinnacle of his sport for an impressive number of years.

He was born and raised in Galveston. His life seemed defined by an incident that occurred when he was quite young. When he came home from school he would often avoid a bully who had once attacked him in the street. That bully was older and larger so he thought it best to stay out of his way. But Jack’s sister saw this and got angry. She insisted that he fight the bully. “In fact,” Jack remembered, “She pushed me into the fray. There was nothing to do but fight so I put all I had into it… and finally whipped my antagonist.”

Jack’s reputation as a fighter was born. Later, working on the Galveston shipping docks, the vigorous work strengthened his muscles and toughened his body. He learned boxing from the stout men on the docks and began fighting in amateur matches, winning most all of them. This was the 1890s.

When he could learn no more in Galveston, he hopped a train out of there, hoping that would take him to a storybook future. In many ways it did.

Over the next decade, Jack became known in boxing as The Galveston Giant. The son of freed slaves, he worked his way through all the black boxers and some of the white ones, too, to get a shot at the World Heavyweight Champion, James Jeffries.

But Jeffries wouldn’t fight a black man. He claimed it was not something a champion should do. So rather than risk his title, he retired, undefeated.

Tommy Burns became the champion and Johnson chased him all the way to Australia and finally got a match. It would be in Sydney. Burns would get $35,000 and Johnson would get $5,000. Burns’ manager would referee the fight. It went fourteen rounds and it was stopped before Burns got knocked out. Johnson was declared the winner. He wrote in his autobiography, “The little colored boy from Galveston had defeated the world’s champion boxer and, for the first and only time in history, a black man held one of the greatest honors that exists in the field of sports…”

Jack London, the famous novelist, covered the fight for The New York Herald. He wrote, “The fight? There was no fight. No Armenian massacre could compare with the hopeless slaughter that took place today. The fight, if fight it could be called, was like that between a pygmy and a colossus… But one thing now remains. Jim Jeffries must emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove the golden smile from Jack Johnson’s face. Jeff, it’s up to you! The White Man must be rescued.”

And that is where the notion of The Great White Hope came from: Jack London.

The World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Johnson, accepted his victory with a contrasting humility. He recalled: “I did not gloat over the fact that a white man had fallen. My satisfaction was only in that one man had conquered another and that I had been the conqueror… The hunt for a ‘white hope’ began, not only with great earnestness and intenseness, but with ill-concealed bitterness.”

So people started sending telegrams and letters to Jim Jeffries, begging him to come back and take the title from Johnson. He initially repeated what he had said before: “I have said I will never box a colored fighter and I won’t change my mind.”

But money can work magic on prejudice. For the guarantee of $120,000 from promoter Tex Rickard, for the fight and the film rights, Jeffries signed on to what was billed as “The Fight of the Century.” It was held in Reno, Nevada, on July 4, 1910. It was well over 100 degrees at fight time – 2:30 in the afternoon under a cloudless sky. Johnson said the “…red hot sun poured down on our heads. The great crowd was burning to a crisp.”

The betting was heavily in favor of Jeffries – about 2 to 1. A reporter from Palestine, Texas, wrote that when Johnson was asked how he felt about that, he said, “I know I’m the short ender in the betting and I know why. It’s a dark secret, but when the fight starts we’ll be color blind. I’m going in to win.” And he did. He knocked out Jeffries in the 15th round.

Johnson said, “Whatever possible doubt may have existed as to my claim to the championship, was wiped out.”

Jack London agreed. He had called out for the great white hope himself and wrote that

Johnson had decisively defeated the white champion. London doubted that Jeffries, even in his prime, could have defeated this “amazing negro (boxer) from Texas.” He said he knocked down the man who had never been knocked down and knocked out the man who had never been knocked out. “Johnson is a wonder,” he concluded. “If ever a man won by nothing more fatiguing than a smile, Johnson won today.”

The film of the fight was considered an immoral display and banned in many states and cities. Governor Campbell of Texas cited those grounds in saying he would discourage authorities from showing it Texas and would convene the legislature to “promote this end.”

Muhammad Ali, who was often compared to Jack Johnson for his unshakeable confidence and easy-going banter in the ring, had enormous admiration for Jack Johnson. He said, “Jack Johnson was a big inspiration for what he did out of the ring. He was so bold. Jack Johnson was a black man back when white people lynched negroes on weekends. This man was told if you beat a white man we’re going to shoot you from the audience and he said well just go ahead and shoot my black butt cuz I’m going to knock him out. He had to be a bad, bad black man cuz wasn’t no Black Muslims to defend him, no NAACP in 1909 no MOV or any black organizations, no Huey Newton, no Angela Davis, no Malcolm X. He was by himself… He was the greatest. He had to be the greatest.”

My special thanks to my good friend James Dennis who suggested this topic as especially worthy of the Stories from Texas series.

Texas Standard: January 23, 2018

Why did President Trumps voter fraud commission ask for the names of all hispanic voters in Texas? The story not be what it seems, we’ll have details. Also wildfires shut down two interstates and force evacuations west of the metroplex. Welcome to wildfire season 2018: we’ll hear what the experts at Texas A&M are bracing for. And after marches over the weekend, women ask how to build on the momentum: one potential answer gaining momentum in a Texas high school classroom. Also 25 years after that siege outside of Waco, a perspective seldom heard: one from the inside. A survivors story. And the shift away from the war on terror: who are the revisionists? Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 9, 2018

It’s a 12 billion dollar solution that could prevent many more billions of dollars in damage. So why can’t Texas put up a hurricane barrier? We’ll explore. Also, the frontrunners in Mexico’s upcoming presidential election have already emerged. How the many Mexican voters living in Texas could effect the outcome. Plus, Texas is taking steps to re-think and re-design state mental health facilities, we’ll have the details. And the views from outer space are quite literally out of this world. But many astronauts have vision trouble in zero gravity. Texas researchers are on the job. Also a 5 to nil vote shut down a plan proposed by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. We’ll take a look at why and what’s next. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 29, 2017

Midterms aren’t usually the most exciting elections, but there’s a whole lotta shakin goin on: political turnover our top story today. Also, more than 30 quakes this year in and around Pecos, more than all recorded there in the past ten years put together. We’ll ask why. Plus, the university of Texas, landing soon in New Mexico? Or maybe Texas A&M? Details of the forthcoming battle for Los Alamos and whether there’s a Rick Perry factor. And as the hurricane season draws to a close, voices from a storm more than a hundred years ago that forever changed the Lone Star State. That and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: November 28, 2017

A republican led race to wrap up a rare rewrite of the nations tax laws hits stumbling blocks in the senate. We’ll hear what provisions are causing problems on the hill and what the cuts could add up to in the political near term. Also, fears growing among many Texas businesses as NAFTA negotiators prepare for round six. And you’ve heard of sanctuary cities? Now hear this: some cities are asking for their police to be deputized into immigration enforcement. And the case that could be the biggest of the century for privacy rights, and why it matters for anyone with a smartphone. All that and then some today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 6, 2017

They are the best numbers in more than 15 years but the worst in 20. The new job reports take a hit from hurricanes, we’ll have the latest. Plus, more legal concerns for Ken Paxton? A Texas prosecutor says she’s investigating whether bribery charges are warranted. We’ll have details plus reaction from the attorney general. And Denton couldn’t keep it’s fracking ban in place, but Scotland’s giving it a go. Lessons from the fracking conversation they’re having across the pond. Also: Galveston oh Galveston, the man who immortalized the Texas island city in song returns to where it all began, a lifelong partnership with Glen Campbell. Plus the week in politics and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard: