Inez X

JOE MURRAY

November 27, 1992|By JOE MURRAY

Angelina County, Texas. -- I wish they'd make a movie called ''Inez X,'' all about a hero of the civil-rights movement.

This movie would take place in my little hometown of Lufkin, Texas. The first thing you'd find out was that Inez was a man, not a woman. The name would always be a problem for him, but not his biggest problem. His biggest problem was that he was a man who was black.

I think I would want to begin the movie with Inez pushing a broom at the foundry, a job he had most of his life. He didn't make much money, but he made a lot of difference in ways great and small.

For one thing, the garden plot behind his small house in the black neighborhood of the town was like unto the Garden of Eden. Inez's garden grew everything possible and fed more people than you'd think possible, poor families who would otherwise go hungry.

But Inez wanted to feed the people in another way as well. He wanted to feed not just their stomachs, but their minds.

The people hungered for better education for their children, but the schools -- the black schools on the black side of town -- were as poor as the people.

Inez Tims believed above all else that black children could not have the same opportunity as white children until they sat beside them in the same schools.

When the time came when something could be done about it, he was the only one who would take the opportunity. He was the only one who would take a stand. Literally, he took the stand as a witness in federal court.

There were other black leaders more prominent, more polished, than Inez Tims. But there was no other black leader who would bring federal suit against the school system.

Inez Tims, who pushed a broom for a living, pushed all of us into full integration of our schools. One man was all it took, one man with courage enough for everyone.

Inez Tims was the kindest, gentlest, strongest person I ever knew. He fought bigotry, hatred and ignorance on all fronts. He lived a long, full life, and when he retired he was an aide to the local congressman.

Toward the end of his life, I remember, in particular, a photo that appeared on the front page of our newspaper long after those civil-rights battles have been won in the schools. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen was in town for a reception. The photo showed Senator Bentsen and Inez Tims. Inez Tims was doing the talking and Senator Bentsen was doing the listening.

Inez Tims was a civil-rights hero, he was my hero, and I wish everybody, everywhere, could have known him. That's why I wish they'd make a movie, ''Inez X.'' Inez was a Baptist, but never mind. Let the ''X'' stand. Let it stand for example.

Joe Murray is editor-publisher emeritus of the Lufkin (Texas) Daily News.

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