A crisis of rapid change : the red scare in Houston, 1945-1955



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From 1949 to 1955, Houston, Texas, experienced a Red Scare with pluralistic causative sources that was influenced by international and national events, nourished by an atmosphere of unease caused by rapid urban change, encouraged and sustained by community elites, and given credibility by leftist activities. Conservative pressure groups such as the American Legion, the Committee for the Preservation of Methodism, and the Minute Women of the USA formed a loose coalition to wage the anti-communism campaign in Houston. The most active and prominent of these Red Scare organizations was the Minute Women of the USA. In 1951, Houston women founded a local chapter of the group that grew rapidly and within a year of its founding had over five hundred members. The Houston Minute Women adopted the traditional techniques of a political interest group. They brought in outside speakers, distributed pamphlets and newsletters, engaged in picketing, disrupted meetings, conducted educational workshops, and successfully campaigned to place their candidates on the Houston school board. The Minute Women increased their effectiveness by adhering to the policy that their efforts should always appear to be those of unorganized, individual citizens. Because of the covert nature of its program, the group took on the aura of a semisecret society. [...]