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African-American civil rights advocate achieves ballot
July 22, 1944

On this day in 1944, Lawrence Aaron Nixon walked into the same El Paso polling place that had denied him his ballot twenty years before and voted in a Democratic primary. The black physician and voting rights advocate was born in Marshall, Texas, in 1884. He began medical practice in Cameron in Milam County. The lynching of a black man in Cameron in 1909 influenced Nixon to become a civil-rights advocate. In December of that year he moved to El Paso, where he established a successful medical practice, helped organize a Methodist congregation, voted in Democratic primary and general elections, and in 1910 helped to organize the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1923 the Texas legislature passed a law prohibiting blacks from voting in Democratic primaries. On July 26, 1924, with the sponsorship of the NAACP, Nixon took his poll-tax receipt to a Democratic primary polling place and was refused a ballot. Thus began a twenty-year struggle in which Nixon and his El Paso attorney, Fred C. Knollenberg, twice carried their case to the United States Supreme Court. It was not until the decision in Smith v. Allwright ended the white primary that the way was cleared, allowing Dr. Nixon to finally cast his primary ballot in El Paso.

Confederate general dies after famous last words
July 22, 1861

On this day in 1861, Confederate general Barnard Elliott Bee Jr. died from wounds received at the first battle of Manassas (or Bull Run). Bee’s family had been very active in the government of the Republic of Texas. His father, Barnard Bee Sr., moved the family from South Carolina to Texas in 1836. The elder Bee’s offices included secretary of state in the administrations of David G. Burnet and Mirabeau B. Lamar and secretary of war under Sam Houston. Hamilton P. Bee, brother to Barnard Jr., served as secretary for the commission that established the boundary between the Republic of Texas and the United States. Hamilton later fought in the Mexican War and served in the Texas legislature before achieving the rank of Confederate brigadier general during the Civil War. Barnard Bee Jr., a West Point graduate and Mexican War veteran, was appointed brigadier general in the Confederate Army and assigned to command a brigade in Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard’s Army of Virginia at Manassas Junction. It was there on July 21, 1861, where his soldiers suffered the brunt of the federal attack on the Confederate left wing. In an effort to encourage his men, Bee cried, “Rally behind the Virginians! There stands Jackson like a stonewall!” Bee's colleague Thomas Jonathan Jackson was forever known as "Stonewall."

Oldest newspaper in Panhandle debuts
July 22, 1887

On this day in 1887, at Panhandle, Texas, Henry Harold Brookes published the Panhandle Herald, now the oldest continuously published newspaper in the Texas Panhandle. The paper has been a weekly except in 1922 and from 1926 to 1928, when it was issued semiweekly. It had numerous owners through the years until it became part of the Panhandle Publishing Company in 1932. The Herald printed a special Fiftieth Anniversary Edition on July 22, 1937.