Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Texas, My, My, My, Texas:

Why in the world did they burn the Governor’s Mansion?

By Eddie Griffin

SUNDAY morning- 1:45 a.m., a fire alarm went off in Austin, Texas. The Governor’s mansion is ablaze.

The day before, SATURDAY afternoon, fire alarms went off inside the Austin Convention Center… send 7,000 delegates scurrying for the exits.

With record heat and a heated caucus, something was bound to burn. Thankfully, Governor Rick Perry was not home at the time.

Who in the world would burn the Governor’s mansion, this ignoble emblem of southern pride from bygone days? Maybe it was one of the thousands of Texas prison system inmates who returned to the plantation manor like Nat Turner.

Not I, Eddie Griffin. I was just passing through the neighborhood when the alarms sounded. Actually, Anthony, my young understudy, and I left Austin on Saturday around 5:00 p.m., while the convention was still in full swing. As we headed by to Fort Worth, we got a call from another delegate back at the convention center. Everyone inside the building had been evacuated. Fire alarms had just gone off.

At the time, the cable broadcast of Hillary Clinton's concession speech was having some technical difficulties being transmitted into the convention center. However, it was clear by the report, that Senator Clinton was now backing Barack Obama.

Whether it was before, during, or after Hillary’s concession speech that the fire alarms went off, neither one of us thought to ask. We were just amazed at the mass evacuation of 7,000 people. But sometimes the sequel and timing of coincidental random events, like the convention fire alarm and the Governor’s mansion arson, an odd bit of unrelated circumstances seems to come alive with intriguing meaning.

This is an irony in politics, in Texas, with Juneteenth on the horizon, and an African-American on step closer to becoming President of the United States, the same office once occupied by the emancipator, Abe Lincoln.

Barack Obama came back and retook the state Hillary Clinton had once boasted a victory. Strange that it reminds me of the Battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863 and the Battle of Galveston on June 19, 1865. The Confederates won the first battle, and prevented the Emancipation Proclamation from taking effect. But on the rebound some two-and-a-half years later, the Union retook the city, on a day forever known in Texas as "Juneteenth".

2008 - That there was a divided and heated Democratic State Convention was all but apparent. Everything was fine one minute. The next minute comes the vote. And, after the vote, came the ugly faces.

All 43% of the Hillary Clinton sat on one side, and all 57% Barack Obama delegates sat on the other side. This was the way they wanted all delegates seated.
But who can tell the difference in numerical strength of a 57-43 split? It's like when a cookie is broken in half, it’s always your half looks bigger than my half. Your piece of cookie looks bigger than my piece of cookie... chocolate on one side and vanilla on the other. Being a majority-minority, we looked like the minority-majority. Or, was it the powerless color of our skin?

We were segregated: predominately black Obama delegates on one side; predominately white Clinton delegates on the other side... 57-43... too damn close to call on any vote. It took teams of counters to do the counting, one counter from Hillary’s team and one counter from Barack’s team, two pair counters to work each side of the room.

Thus, we found ourselves voting as a bloc, a hardened bloc, blacks on one side and whites on the other. This was not my paradigm of an ideal society.

But there it is. I rest my case. Eddie Griffin started no fires, nor put in any false alarm, nor started any heated discussion or controversy.

So, who really did burned down the Governor’s mansion? And who, by the way, rang the fire alarm in the convention center? Are the two incidents related? Did all of this happen because Barack Obama won the state of Texas? (Conspiracy or an Overactive Suspicious Imagination?)

Never underestimate the fight of a Texan, black or white. And, don’t be surprised that Eddie Griffin is as much Confederate as Union.

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