While the long term closure of Texas schools as a preventative measure against the novel coronavirus is unprecedented, it is not the only time that Texas schools have been closed to prevent the spread of illness. In January 1984, for example, schools in Venus, Texas closed due to an influenza outbreak in the town.
The first Earth Day was celebrated fifty years ago today, on April 22, 1970. KXAS broadcast a special about the holiday at 11 AM. The new holiday in support of environmental protection was popular in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As the original KXAS script (see image below) put it, schools at all levels, “from grade school through graduate school, banded together today to save man from himself.” At UNT (then known as North Texas State University), a fishpond was re-stocked and Senator Ralph Yarborough spoke to a crowd of 3,000. Congressman Jim Wright joined students at the University of Texas in Arlington to bury a car engine before planting a tree in the same spot. Carter High students picked up litter from the side of the road in their neighborhood. Dr. Thomas E. Kennerly, a Biology professor at UT-Arlington, warned that the proposed Trinity River Canal would cause an unsustainable population boom in the area. Other recommendations for stemming the damage to the Earth on the first Earth Day included lowering pollution by regulating factories and encouraging bicycle use to controlling the population through tax breaks and legalized abortion. On April 23, 1970, presumably inspired by Earth Day, the Texas Water Quality Board ordered every Texas city with a population over 100,000 to come up with a plan to police unauthorized pollution of waterways.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first introduced to the U.S. Congress in 1923. It was designed to guarantee equal legal rights for women especially in matters of divorce, property, and employment among other matters.
During the 1960s, with the first wave of feminism, the ERA regained support and was reintroduced to and approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971, and was approved by the U.S. Senate in 1972. This approval moved the amendment to the state legislatures for ratification. The original deadline for states to ratify this amendment was March 22, 1979, with 38 states needed to amend the U.S. Constitution.
There was a major push by the National Organization for Women (NOW) to support ratification of the ERA. This KXAS script describes then NOW President Betty Friedan campaigning in Fort Worth for women to use their political voice to support ERA ratification, in 1970.
A number of states that originally ratified the amendment rescinded it in the late 1970s. Texas voted to ratify the ERA in 1972, and later voted down an attempt to rescind the amendment.
This KXAS clip shares some of the varying north Texas opinions on the issue of Congress extending the deadline for states to ratify the amendment in 1978.
Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative activist, argued against the ERA saying it would hurt housewives, allow women to be drafted into the military, and lose the tendency for mothers to obtain custody of children in divorce. Schlafly is featured in this KXAS clip speaking at Southern Methodist University in 1979.
The ratification of the ERA is an ongoing issue with Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia all ratifying the amendment since 2017. Voting in January 2020, Virginia is the most recent state to ratify.
Additional materials related to the Equal Rights Amendments can be found on the Portal to Texas History.
The Jewish holiday of Passover begins today at sundown. Tonight families will gather for a seder to commemorate the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus. But the gatherings and perhaps the meal will look and feel a little different this year than in years past. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent stay-at-home quarantine orders throughout the world, it’s unlikely that extended families will be able to gather in person for Passover or the Christian holiday of Easter, on April 12th. Many families are planning to use technological tools, like Skype or Zoom, to connect with loved ones on this holy day, something that would have probably sounded like science fiction in 1984!
More footage of Passover seders can be viewed in the Portal to Texas History.
How are you adapting Passover (or Easter) this year? Let us know in the comments.
On this day, thirty-five years ago, the popular Wendy’s slogan, “Where’s the Beef?” made headline news at NBC 5/KXAS, with reporter Jack Helsel taking the story. This catchphrase was introduced by the fast food chain restaurant Wendy’s, in 1984, to distinguish itself from competitors. The original commercial, a snippet featured in Helsel’s news report, is about three elderly ladies dining at the “Home of the Big Bun,” and exclaiming “Where’s the beef?!”
This simple advertisement started a popular culture movement where promotional items like bumper stickers, frisbees, and clothing were hot selling items. The slogan grew to be so popular that our own Texas news reporter sat down with a McDonald’s Big Mac, a Burger King Whopper, and a Wendy’s burger to finally answer this age-old question, “Where’s the Beef?” After pulling out a ruler and scale, Helsel declared that the Whopper had the largest patty, the Big Mac had the taller patty, and that both burger patties weighed more than Wendy’s patty. Helsel ended his new report by asking, not “where’s the beef,” but “where’s the taste?”
Business Executive, presidential candidate, philanthropist and life-long Texan, H. Ross Perot has passed away today at 89. A look back through the archive tells a powerful story, and provides evidence for all he will be remembered for. Here is a look at some the stories that are known, as well as some that may have been forgotten.
The earliest mention of Perot in the news archive is from 1969, when Perot donated $2.4 mil to the Dallas Public Schools.
That same year Perot gave $1 mil to the Dallas Area Boy Scouts council to support a membership drive.
Perhaps one of the most remembered things Perot did in his career was successfully orchestrate the rescue of Electronic Data Systems employees from Iran in 1979. Footage of the news conferences following their rescue is available in the news archive.
Perot received the Winston Churchill Award in 1986 for his bravery in rescuing EDS employees, and for his ongoing work in providing aid to American POWs in Vietnam. Prince Charles awarded the medal to Perot at a ceremony in Dallas.
On November 3, 1992, Presidential candidate Ross Perot cast his vote at the Walnut Hill Recreational Center in North Dallas.
Maybe one of the strangest clips in the archive has to do with a barber shop that offered $5.00 Ross Perot haircuts… you know, tapered on both sides and back…
Happy Halloween! We hope you’re all having a spooky good time today. We dug up this charming feature from October 1988 on local puppeteer, John Hopkins who created amazingly lifelike monster costumes for Halloween.
On June 27 Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the court. Subsequently, President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh, one of Kennedy’s former clerks, to fill his seat. Republican leadership in the Senate are hoping to hold Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in late August. As Kavanaugh’s confirmation process begins, we wanted to take a look back at the confirmation hearing for the man who is leaving the vacant seat that Kavanaugh hopes to fill.
Kennedy was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan on November 11, 1987 to fill the seat vacated by Lewis F. Powell’s retirement. He was the third person nominated by Reagan to fill the position after Robert Bork was rejected by the Senate and Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his name from consideration earlier in 1987. Kennedy’s hearing before the Senate judiciary committee was held December 14-16, 1987. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on February 3, 1988.
As can be seen in this news story from December 14, 1987 on Kennedy’s hearing, concern over Roe v. Wade and women’s issues were as critical to Kennedy’s appointment as they will be for Kavanaugh’s.
In honor of Pride Month, UNT Special Collections is sharing previously unseen footage of LGBT civil rights activist Harvey Milk during an appearance in Dallas. On June 10, 1978, 40 years ago this week, the Texas Gay Conference V was in full swing at the Royal Coach Inn near Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas. Under the theme of “Setting Sites on Human Rights,” the conference invited several gay civil rights activists. Among them was the newly elected member of San Francisco City Board of Supervisors, and first openly gay elected official in the entire state of California, Harvey Milk.
UNT Special Collections recently sent 2,000 UMatic tapes from our NBC 5/KXAS Television News collection for digitization. As we sort through the 50,000+ digital news clips that will come back, we may not always immediately catch the gems we have preserved. Fortuitously, Morgan Gieringer, head of Special Collections, recognized Harvey’s familiar face even though he is not named on air. Even more incredibly, Morgan discovered the video exactly 40 years to the day it was recorded! What are the odds?
The first clip is the packaged segment by reporter Noah Nelson, featuring an interview with Milk and Rev. Larry Hemp about LGBTQ+ youth, their future and hardships, and the second clip is the b-roll footage, or outtakes, from that segment. The b-roll footage has an extended portion of the Harvey Milk interview in which he says that he wants young gay people “to have hope, and know that they can become doctors and lawyers,” and with playful self-deprecation adds, “and politicians… God forbid.” Five months later, on November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk was assassinated by fellow city supervisor Dan White in San Francisco, California.
The Texas Gay Conference V is further documented in UNT Special Collections’ LGBT Collection archives. The personal papers of Steve Wilkins, founding member of the Dallas Gay Political Caucus and co-chair of the Texas Gay Conference V, are housed within the Resource Center LGBT Collection.
Prior to his assassination on November 18, Milk discerned that he might be killed and made a tape recording to be played in the event of his death. The closing statement on that tape is, “All I ask is for the movement to continue, and if a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”
Archival footage from the NBC 5/KXAS Television News Archive was used extensively in the first episode of ABC’s true-crime miniseries “The Last Defense.” Archivists at UNT worked closely with producers at Lincoln Square Productions to conduct footage research, digitize original archive tapes, and identify relevant footage for Episode one, featuring Darlie Routier.
In 1997, Darlie Routier was sentenced to death for the murder of her two sons. The murders, which occurred in Rowlett, Texas in 1996, captured the local public’s attention for many months. NBC 5/KXAS–TV captured extensive coverage of the case beginning with the discovery of the murder and continuing through an investigation and trial. Between the Jun 6, 1996 discovery of the murders, and the February 4, 1997 verdict in the Routier case, NBC 5/KXAS created over 160 news segments about the case. These have all been digitized and are available on the Portal to Texas History, and some will be featured in the ABC production.
Darlie Routier will be featured in the first episode on “The Last Defense” a series which examines death row cases and the American justice system. Routier has maintained her innocence for 20 years on Death Row.
Reaction from Rowlett
Darlie Routier Verdict