The Jim Wells County Historical Commission invites the public to a free history seminar centered on the political atmosphere of Jim Wells and Duval counties from the 1940s and 1950s.

“It's a collage of incredible issues that were happening in that era and George Parr was in the middle of it,” said Antonio “Tony” Bill, JWC Historical Commission co-chair.

Bill will be presenting a paper on the Texas Ranger and George Parr confrontation of January 1954.

Alfredo Cardenas, author and journalist, will make a presentation regarding The Freedom Party of Duval County and Texas A&M University-Kingsville Lecturer Nicole Perez Morris will discuss the political climate of Jim Wells and Duval Counties from 1948 to 1955.

“My presentation on the 17th will be about the Duval County Freedom Party which took on the Parr political machine in the 1950s,” said Cardenas. “Beginning in about 1912, Archie Parr began building up his political machine with the support of the Mexican American majority in Duval County. He molded them into an unbeatable political force and used them to advance his own political career.” 

Many, however, did not feel Parr's brand of politics was very democratic and after World War II, returning Duval County veterans took up the mission of deposing the Parr machine. In about 1952, 40 years after the Parrs had operated with a free hand, these veterans and others formed the Duval County Freedom Party to wrest control from Parr.

Despite important support from the state and federal governments, the Freedom Party only achieved modest success and by 1960 had faded from the scene and George Parr had resumed complete control of Duval County politics. Still, after Parr's suicide in 1974, remnants of the Freedom Party or descendants of some of the key players in the party were poised to challenge the machine again. This time, without a Parr at its head, the machine slowly came apart and while some remnants still exist, Duval County today, by and large, operates under the free democratic principles the founders of the Freedom Party espoused. 

Jim Wells County Clerk J.C. Perez will emcee the presentation, which will take place at the Jim Wells County courthouse district courtroom at 6 p.m., Thursday May 17.