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Texas Civil Rights Leader Revealed in new Biography
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Nov 07, 2022, 5:00 AM ET
Rev. Dr. L.E. Bennett's life in civil rights and the integration of Southwestern Bell/AT&T detailed in new book.
It’s long Overdue! The revelation of the Texas Civil Rights Leader. Time to reclaim some lost history. A new book entitled—Jewel of the South, civil rights biography of Rev. Dr. L.E. Bennett was recently published.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the war against racism and inequality raged in America with fire, pain, and death. Rev. Dr. L.E. Bennett furthered his activity past the voting booth in civil rights, spurred by the in-person speech from John F. Kennedy (J.F.K.) in front of the Alamo on September 12, 1960, in San Antonio, Texas. While on lunch break from the Travis St. location he listened to the charismatic presidential candidate inspire action. Through many trials, L.E. fought systemic bigotry and successfully integrated a major telecommunications corporation for craft level positions above janitorial or mechanic. The task was a difficult one.
During that time, people of color couldn't apply for better jobs. They had to ask permission and write a letter to upper management. Human Resources didn't ensure equality. From Bennett's humble beginnings in Louise, TX, drafted into the Korean War as a U.S. Army soldier, and to a janitor at the phone company. He grew frustrated with waiting for an opportunity to advance, even with his completed higher levels of education.
In an America where racism and inequality raged in every aspect of life. His first step was to become president of the then-segregated Colored People’s Union. Secondly, it allowed him leverage to forge necessary change and thrashed through intense meetings with upper management that ensued with varied stall tactics and negative comments. He gleaned support from some local politicians and help from other activists like Dr. Ruth Bellinger, Eugene Coleman, and Rev. Claude Black.
L.E. Bennett strived to meet the main union president at the Communication Worker's of America's (C.W.A.) annual convention in Kansas City, MO. Sadly he was spurned by the white union members president, not allowed to speak at the convention and had to run for the train in order to avoid injury. Unfortunately, his vast stressors sometimes lead to corporal punishment at home.
Integration of the business behemoth Southwestern Bell/ AT&T and helping people register to vote meant putting his life and his family at risk. However, these actions earned him a Political Education Award from Roy Wilkins, former president and Rev. C.D. Owens of the NAACP. In addition, he received a certificate from the Wall of Tolerance signed by Ms. Rosa Parks. Also, a commendation letter for community service from Former President Clinton, and two Texas Senators. As we near Black History Month, let's remember Rev. Dr. L.E. Bennett.
All people—no longer just people of color—seek enlightenment and have value. Advocates for social justice at periods when the first civil rights movement scored profound victories for people of color are not only important examples but part of our rich history. Follow this man's remarkable journey for social justice and change.
In recognition, the Bullock Museum of History in Austin, Texas, determined they will open the exhibit to posthumously honor a native son in early Spring of 2023.
Contact the author to request interviews, a private book signing and/or speaking event for your church membership, organization, or university while available through the author’s website.
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