Mrs. James B. Neely to Smith, July 3, 1968

In the 1960s, universities became the vanguard of social change in America. Fueled by the protest movement against the Vietnam War, students began to question other aspects of society. Many advocated new ways of thinking about civil rights, women's rights, and the way that money and power were allocated. Others focused on personal rebellion expressed through dress, music, and more casual attitudes towards sex and drug use.

The generation gap between Preston Smith and the student protesters was more like a chasm. Smith had spent his life working to become part of what the protesters called the establishment. Moreover, he had focused much of his career on advocating higher education and expanding the university system in Texas. In this letter, a citizen writes to Smith, then a candidate for governor, about a remark he made about students at the University of Texas.

Mrs. Neely's letter | Smith's reply | "Modern Texas"

Neely to Smith

Wednesday July 3

Dear Mr. Smith,

I feel rather certain that you will be

our next governor. But before I personally

decide in your favor I want to have a

better understanding of what you will stand

for in this important postion.

As a former student at the University

of Texas I was shocked when I read in

the Dallas Morning News that you had referred

to a "mass" of people on the UT campus

as "long haired kooks." Is this statement

a representation of your attitudes? I believe

that such statements will only make people

classify you as narrow minded and shallow.

We, the state of Texas needs a man

with an open mind, ready for change when

a change is needed. Are you this man?

I am awaiting your reply.

Mrs. James B. Neely

Mrs. Neely's letter | Smith's reply | "Modern Texas"

Courtesy Preston Smith Papers, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University.

Page last modified: March 30, 2011