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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The March on Washington and Taylor Branch’s Trilogy on the Black Civil Rights Movement in America

By Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian

The fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington is August 28th.  The library’s collection includes the excellent trilogy written by Taylor Branch, www.taylorbranch.com, on the civil rights movement:  Parting the Waters, America in the King years, 1954-63 (E 185.61 B72 v.1 1989), Pillar of Fire, America in the King Years 1963-65 (E 185.61 B72 v.2 1998), and At Canaan’s Edge, America in the King Years 1965-1968 (E 185.61 B72 v.3 2006). These books are long on the national and individual dramas of the movement.

Chapter 22 of Parting the Waters is devoted to the intrigue around the March. A student, who idolizes Dr. King said he does not want to know unflattering details about King’s personal life. I assured him that such details would lead to appreciation for the fact that an ordinary human could serve as the pivot around which those years of the movement coalesced. The books give the reader insight into the fact that no one person could accomplish such goals alone and that largely unsung black women served as backbones of the movement.

Parting the Waters was published in 1989. Now with the digitization of Congressional materials and press accounts, the reader can access full texts of government documents cited by Branch.The library's ProQuest Congressional database contains the full-text of congressional hearings and reports on proposals for civil rights bills which reached fruition in Public Law 88-352, Civil Rights Act of 1964. For example, in July 1963 a bill entitled, Public Accommodations, Senate 88-1372 was debated and considered. Proponents of the bill and segregationists governors, Ross Barnett of Mississippi and George Wallace of Alabama participated in the hearings. In the same chapter, Branch references Lyndon’s Johnson’s revival from a moribund vice-president to the historic arm twister he was. Johnson chastised the President of Houston Power and Light Company for allowing the City of Houston to "shut off dockside electricity to protest the Navy’s new policies on off-base segregation.” In a carrot and stick approach he threatened withdrawal of proposed new federal contracts for the NASA tracking station.

De jure segregation policies are brought to life by our library’s Digital Collection which contains the Houston City Code of Ordinances 1958-62 in the Houston Legal History section. The code contained provisions on bus segregation (Buses, Chapter 6, Article 5 – Segregation of Races) and criminal penalties for sexual relations between Negro persons and whites. (Crimes, Chapter 11 Section 11-102.) Everyone who was not classified as Negro was considered white.

Bayard Rustin’s, an important and controversial figure in the civil rights movement, Organizing Manual No. 2 Final Plans for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is available from a post by an organization called Civil Rights Movement Veterans (accessed on August 20, 2013.)


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The library is partnering with the Houston Bar Association to collect new or gently used books for readers of all ages. A collection box is located on the second floor of the library on the low reference shelves. Please bring your books to the library by the end of the day on Wednesday, September 11th. Your contribution will benefit local organizations and will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for your participation! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Post-Graduate Entrepreneurs

Today on NPR's Morning Edition there was an interesting segment on the entrepreneurial ways recent law school graduates are putting their degrees to work.

Listen here:

http://www.npr.org/2013/08/15/212163738/attorney-dispenses-legal-advice-as-well-as-shaving-cream

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I Scream, You Scream...52 more days of Ice Cream!

July has come to an end and so too has National Ice Cream month, but not before we in the library had a chance to celebrate.  Sanctioned as a month for national "Vitamin I" indulgence, we felt a great responsibility to fully commemorate America's favorite frozen treat.

We even established a special decree for all STCL students, alumni, faculty, and staff: 
May the observance of National Ice Cream Month continue for 52 additional days (during which time all frozen dairy confections shall be consumed 100% free-of-guilt) and conclude on September 22, aka National Ice Cream Cone Day. 
After all, as Houstonians, our incomparable tolerance for heat and humidity entitles us to an ice cream holiday extension -- unless of course you're eager to start observing National Catfish Month -- no disrespect to catfish, but Homemade Vanilla wins that contest every time!
Learn more about National Ice Cream Month from the Government Printing Office, and watch a cool video about ice cream production in Colonial America.
And in recognition of our other true love (books!), here's a fun link to book-inspired ice cream flavors. Dig in!

For Nonpartisan Artisans: Craft Brewing in Texas...and Beyond!

On Friday, the New York Times (in partnership with the Texas Tribune) posted an interesting story about the impact of recent legislative changes on independent breweries in Texas. Effective September 1, 2013, the distribution and sale of craft-brewed beers in Texas will be much less restricted. 

The full-text of all relevant legislation (SB 516, 517, 518, 519) can be searched here, on the Texas Legislative Reference Library website:
And the NYT/Texas Tribune blog piece can be found here:
I got curious and started poking around online for additional information.  The following sites provide good detail about the laws that govern independent brewing across the nation.
Brewery Law
Legal Brewing (with a link here to two books on the subject)
Legal Libations
And this site which lists distribution laws for independently-brewed beer and wine
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) - Home Manufacture of Alcoholic Beverages State Statutes
Legal Status of Home brewing in the United States (Statutes -- Search by State)
And for a little cheese with your beverage of choice, visit the link below. The NCSL has complied a state-by-state summary of all the statutes and administrative codes that govern raw milk sales and distribution (as well as the sale and distribution of cheese made with unpasteurized dairy products).
One last resource: The library maintains a large collection of library research guides, called Lib Guides, which you can access via Stanley, the library's public site, and by searching the Web.  One of our reference librarians, Jessica Alexander, recently started her own compilation page of "Laws State by State," which you can access at the link below.  The 50-state surveys listed above (for the sale/distribution of craft brews and raw milk products) will soon be included.
Happy noshing!