Sunday, June 19, 2011

A note on Father's Day

I have two dominant memories of my father.

Joseph Touart Phillips was a Marine and spent much of my early childhood wandering around the Pacific, going to Vietnam, Okinawa, and California, while I lived with my mom and sister in Texas. In my first memory of him, I'm crawling on the floor of my grandmother's house in Garland. Dad is coming home for a visit. He appears in the door and he's in the dress blues. He looks like a giant to me. I get scared and hide behind a chair.

The other memory is from the end of his life, the last time I was able to speak to him. He was dying from lung cancer, which was spreading to his brain, the result perhaps from exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam plus a lifelong addiction to tobacco. I was at my parent's home while on a research trip.

As I left I told dad that when he got better, he should come visit us in the Austin area. I am sure he knew he was dying. For the first time I can remember, he leaned over and kissed me.

That's life I guess - the distance between the kid hiding in fear behind the chair and the father making a last kiss on his son's cheek.


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

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