Roy’s Sunday Letter for April 2, 2023

  • Beth and I were on a bus Saturday with 45 members of nine Episcopal Peace & Justice groups. We were there to learn about Fred Rouse, a Black worker at Swift & Company, a meat packing company in Fort Worth. Mr. Rouse could not join the union, now on strike, due to his race. He crossed the union line to work and to earn money for his family.
  • Mr. Roush was severely beaten by white union members; most were members of the large local KKK. He was taken to the “Negro Ward, City and County Hospital” and placed in a bed in the basement to recover. So severe were his injuries, he was still in the hospital 5 days later. On December 11, 1921, at 11:00 PM, thirty hooded men came to the hospital, took Mr. Rouse out of his bed, drove several miles to the northside intersection of Samuels & 12th, near the Swift plant, to the” Killing Tree.” The KKK shot him multiple times and then hung Mr. Rouse from a hackberry tree. No one was arrested.
  • This history of Fort Worth has had limited exposure. A local history professor, saw Mr. Rouse ‘s name, cause of death, and date while visiting the National Memorial for Peace & Justice in Birmingham, AL. With historical research this history professor uncovered the truth of the story. When contacted the grandson of Mr. Rouse, had never heard his grandfather’s story.
  • Now, the place of the “Hanging Tree” has been purchased. The Tarrant County Coalition for Peace & Justice (TCCPJ) has plans for a Mr. Fred Rouse Memorial. A bill first introduced in 1922 in the U.S. Congress banning Lynching became law in 2022.

** My naive 1960’s hope was to change the world, make society better, healthier, safer for all both nationally and internationally. Thus, for elected members of Congress to say, “There is nothing we can do about children being murdered with assault weapons,” it is an individual and institutional sin. I say that because, I truly think about the 6 families and communities mourning this week for the senseless murders of the hopes and dreams of their loved ones.

  • In 1958, Thomas Merton spoke at his Kentucky monastery, Gethsemani. He praised Gandhi’s practice of non-violence. A monastery superior told Merton “Non-violence would not work as it was not natural.” Merton replied, “No, I guess it is not. Yet, unless we practice non-violence, what will happen to our world.”

** In the midst of a heavy, tragic news week, just for fun. YouTube, Austin City Limits, 1992. John Prine’s “Jesus, The Missing Years.” (age12 to 30).

It is not easy standing with 45 others where a hanging tree once grew……..Roy


  1. Dave Steward on April 2, 2023 at 6:40 am

    I have a hard time wrapping my head around such cruelty. I recall standing downtown Commerce, Tx in ’65 as a freshman at ETSU, now affiliated with A&M, and reading a posted newspaper clipping of the last lynching in that area. It showed a picture of a Black man hanging from a tree just across the street from where I was standing. The tree was still there. Texas has a sullied past in this regard. In 1916 Waco was the center of a ruthless lynching, as were other counties throughout the State. Johnson’s Civil Rights legislation of ’64 & ’65 was a huge step forward, but today it seems we’ve been walking a moving sidewalk the last 55 years and hardly made much progress. Thanks for this SL, Roy, and the history lesson that hopefully causes us all to think about this nation’s heading when it comes to civil rights.

    • Roy Bowen on April 2, 2023 at 7:30 am

      Sometimes hard to be Texas born, raised, taught lies and untruths (The Alamo). How can I be 78 and now learning of this history? Texas, and many other states, were born in violence. We have not reset our heritage….we just keeping beating down the same path expecting acceptance and arms around us all. Never give up the Hope ewe are also told. Thus, we continue on, connecting, loving, being our best selves.

    • Roy Bowen on April 14, 2023 at 7:07 am

      Dave, I had inteneded to return to your good and thoughtful Comment. Life swept me away.
      TX and lynching have to close a shared history path. There are those who would now hand trans, including a Black elected whatever in, of course, Florida.
      Does anyone have kids or grkids to speak to and for all those being pushed down, held down? The fear based hating, shaming, blaming getting louder and louder. We hold to our values….We do not stay in our lane….We continue on!

  2. mike davis on April 2, 2023 at 7:35 am

    I applaud all this attention to the troubled and horrible past experienced by Black men. I often wonder why an equal amount of attention and passion and compassion and desire to foster change, to protect Black People, isn’t directed to cities all across this country, like Chicago, where black on black crime has skyrocketed and is completely out of control. Very puzzling.

    Thanks for the letter Roy. please keep writing..

    • Roy Bowen on April 2, 2023 at 8:08 am

      I suggest unless I can, you can, we can retain focus on this pain, actually feel the pain is terror/violence escaping to Chicago is a way of fleeing the reality of this pain, these people, this event. So, stay with the reading. Chicago tag is a way of discounting this historic event. OR, simply say “I don’t want to know.” OR, do a Search: National Museum for Peace & Justice, Birmingham, AL. After that lingering, we talk about the challenge of both historic and current Chicago.

      • mike davis on April 2, 2023 at 9:22 am

        Thanks for the museum recommendation. No historic event discounting or knowledge acquisition refusal. My question aimed at current folks in charge and their failures or lack of true caring and concern. Comparing to the caring and concern you exhibit with your sharing of histories that do need to be remembered acknowledged and used to improve our society moving forward.. I respect your passion on this..

        • Roy Bowen on April 2, 2023 at 1:54 pm

          I was writing from memory, not my best
          Not a museum….right word is Memorial
          We also picked up a booklet from another group (I will get name) on national hangings
          I believe there has been 4,100 hangings
          Not sure of dates
          I will look at the booklet next week

  3. Beth Kean on April 2, 2023 at 8:31 am

    Dave, I appreciate your comments. One of my friends did some additional research and found that the lynchings included women and children. I can not imagine the collective trauma and pain of seeing a loved one hanging in a tree. Hispanic people were also hung and if combined with black lynchings, Texas had more than any other state.

    As a child growing up I. Texas public schools, it is appalling to me that we were victims of systematic racism, sadly we only received the white washed version. I can’t undo that but I can educate myself and speak the truth about a history never told.

    Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” My prayer is that when we can recognize our own suffering that we can begin to understand the suffering of others which leads us to compassion.

    • Roy Bowen on April 2, 2023 at 2:01 pm

      Well said by MLK
      We both got the same TX education about TX
      Good, in our elder yrs., we can and will speak out.
      We continue on….

  4. Paul Warren on April 2, 2023 at 9:08 am

    “…it was not natural.” Any time we strive to make changes in our lives it feels unnatural. That is the difficult part of change, and yet it is nearly always a possibility. Forming a new path in the meadow is scary. Part of my job as a therapist is to encourage people to do the “unnatural.”

    • Roy Bowen on April 2, 2023 at 1:57 pm

      Really like the unnatural part of your wording
      Merton, hero time, was never controlled by the monastery abbots and other superiors.
      They did stop him in isolated ways, but not all
      Merton could be one angry, stubborn dude.

  5. FRANK JOHNSON on April 2, 2023 at 10:25 am

    Just asking for a friend . . . Say, one has a brother who absolutely refuses to see the injustice in our past as anything but “that was then, look what opportunities ‘they’ have now! Look at the bootstraps we have given them. Not my problem, ‘they’ just need to learn to comply with authority and we wouldn’t have all these problems.” I don’t know what to tell this “friend”.
    You hit a hot spot with me, and you are right on! Keep us alive with the unfortunately “dead” past as eventually our aliveness might somehow make a difference in the way we see the past and live into the future, arm in arm hopefully.
    Good work, my friend! You and your better half, Beth, have sure made an impact on me and my wife.

    • Roy Bowen on April 2, 2023 at 12:51 pm

      Not an easy one is one way and very easy in another.
      I will have SL readers who agrees down the line, word for word, with one who has a brother. 6:30Am)P
      Here is my informal take on a Sunday afternoon (I am brighter 6:30AM).
      The comments of Mike Davis are the same. See his as well.
      My/our invitation is to feel the pain; stay with the pain, understand the other person/group through the painm the suffering.
      The other word on Sunday afternoon is “allow.”
      I allow that person’s words, even anger, to be said in this space, safely and respectfully.
      By allowing, I have no need to stand against, argue with, go to the whose right, whose wrong corner.
      Again, the invitation to take in an historic hanging until death of a husband, father, co-worker, perhaps friend to many.
      Then, by feeling the pain, standing in that spot, I want to hear about Chicago (Mike Davis), or “not my problem.”
      I will listen without interruption.
      I would ask, “Can my truth and your truth exist in the same paragraph, on the same page, in the same conversation?
      My answer is Yes
      No doubt others are wiser. I will need a 2nd beverage first!!


      • FRANK JOHNSON on April 3, 2023 at 10:28 am

        Counting beverages might be a questionable endeavor. There is just so much packed into these topics. I’m not sure that truth, mine and another’s, can always exist in the same paragraph or conversation. Some of the more liberal media will say that we cannot do that, and accomplish anything. If we don’t call out for truth being truth, then we should just keep the conversations on the weather and sports. I guess there are some people who I can just talk about weather and sports, but there are some people who I can’t.
        Another story from my past, as we all learn about events that shock us, occurred on a high school basketball trip from Brownwood, TX, to Graham, TX. We stopped in Breckenridge for our pre-game meal. We had one black player on our team and he refused to get off the bus to go into the restaurant to eat with the rest of us. His mother had given him the “talk”. The “why” of this went over my head and it was years later recalling the event that I finally understood what had happened.

        • Roy Bowen on April 4, 2023 at 8:26 am

          These are challenging days to talk, to key a comment on all platforms.
          People in authority are resigning, being fired, suspended, walking away.
          Toxic, with gun carrying, dangerous.
          And yet, it is only in that we are truly ourselves.
          Yes, use caution when best, but keep at the words, printed, on device, or even slow mail.
          Frank, good story of past learning coming to you later in life.
          Thank you.

          • Roy Bowen on April 9, 2023 at 3:10 pm

            A full and wonderous Comment in all ways. Good to read of the cultural recognitions of Easter. Rebirthing applies to so much.
            Golf has been a part of my world, for good or three put for all of my life. Grew up with guys who got there early, left late. So yes, I will tee it up again. 2 weeks after our move to FW the Covid shut down hit, so nothing moved for 2 yrs. I did take some balls to the park as Covid was freeing a little….was not pretty. I have a one pager titled “A Lifetime Of Golf In ten Minutes. I will send. I really appreciate your comment, all your comments. More out there for us both. Roy

  6. Martha Richardson on April 2, 2023 at 4:53 pm

    Roy, I agree with what you said about not knowing the true history of civil rights in Texas as well as in this country. I never knew the whole story of Emmett Till until. recently.
    Now out enlightened Texas legislators are so afraid of us knowing these horrible stories, they are banning books and calling everything they disagree with “WOKE”
    It enrages me every time I think of it.

    • Roy Bowen on April 3, 2023 at 8:11 am

      Molly Ivens is still among us!!
      The non-leader Austin types don’t want to know, will not stay with the pain of knowing. The white folk disengage. stay in their own private lane. We will hold each and all accountable, even though hard to do in a state as large as we are. You are part of the answer and thank you for reading and adding Comment. I am not moving to Utah. My roots are here, even though I did not know the truths. WE all continue to Comment, post, vote.

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