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Waller County History of Racism

Texas County Where Sandra Bland Died Has Long History Of Racism

Waller County was named for Edwin Waller, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836, who four years later became the first elected mayor of Austin. Whites make up 44 percent of the 47,000 residents, Hispanics 29 percent and Blacks 25 percent. First settled in the early 1820s, the area became home to slave-labor cotton plantations. Hempstead was incorporated in 1858 thanks to a railroad terminus. The plantations were dismantled with the end of the Civil War in 1865. Three years later, historical records report a race riot, followed by unrest in the 1880s, when a White Man's Party was established to blunt active Black political participation in the county where Blacks outnumbered Whites.

That's when violence blamed on the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groups gave it the "Six Shooter" sobriquet. More recently, voter intimidation and voting-rights complaints have arisen from students at Prairie View A&M University, a college established in 1876 specifically to train Black teachers.

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